17. November 2017

Don't you hate how clever these scammers are? Do you wonder what they could do if they spent their energy doing something real rather than ripping people off? Life is short and this is how they choose to spend their days? What jerks! Well, let's look at a few of the most common.

1 – Shipping To You Now or Your Invoice
Emailed to you typically from a recognized brand name with a slight twist such as amazon.somethingservices.net where amazon is in there somewhere but only as a sub-domain or folder name. The scammer sent out hundreds of thousands of these that look real because they had your name, your business name, your email, maybe even your address and phone. The scammers want you to click on something to either install malware on your computer or to send you to a phishing site to collect your payment info. Usually it is for something small like $19.95 so that many people will simply completed the form.

2 – Your Domain Is Expiring
These scammers send out millions of emails to domain owners requesting payment for expiring domains when they have nothing to do with your domain provider or your domain hosting service and your domain is not even expiring (although many times it is). They get you to enter your credit card or your banking info to make the payment and it all looks very legit, but it is anything but. The scammers then have the info they need to sell your data all over the dark web and really cause you a lot of headaches. These scammers we also simply use the links to install malware in an attempt take control of your computer and learn all your user ID and Passwords to any sites you enter after the malware install is successful.

3 – Hold Your Data Hostage
Ransomware has become very popular in 2017. These scammers use malware and other hacking techniques to gain access to your valuable business data. You then get messages demanding payment to remove their control or they will wipe out your data. You pay and in most cases they do give you back control, but now you have to find out how they got in, if they left a back door to do it again, and very often all your data is for sale to anyone else who wants to pay for it.

4 – FBI and IRS Calls That Aren’t
You answer the phone and the recording says “This is the IRS calling. We are about to take action against you for back taxes. To avoid further action call this number today.” Or “this is the FBI calling. An arrest warrant has been issued for your address. To avoid being arrested call this number today.” News flash. Neither the IRS or the FBI ever call you give you a heads up and neither will leave a number you can call to make a payment so it will all go away. These are also being emailed and even sent via text message. Again that will never happen from the real IRS or FBI. They do not text you and they do not hire call centers in India to do their collections.

5 – You Have Won! Click Here ...
These scams come in emails and text messages. You have won a free AirBNB, a free flight, a free rental car, etc. All you have to do is reply “Yes” or click the “Yes” button. Then you spend months unwinding the fact that they have your passwords, your banking info, or your credit cards. The reality is if “YOU WON” and it is from someone or something you know nothing about then block it but do not reply or click on it.

Be smart and don’t fall for the tricks of these and other scams. Set up your emails to catch spam. Report it as spam if it gets through. Block unknown numbers. Use your phone service “scam likely” tagging systems to alert you before you answer. And never reply to unknown text message senders.

Avoiding Small Business Scams

1. November 2017

The Federal Contract process can be very complex and a little overwhelming. This can result in small businesses either not bidding on contracts or hiring someone to help them through the process. The problem comes from the latter. Unfortunately this sets small businesses up for scammers.

Businesses who wish to bid on federal contracts are required to register with the General Services Administration's (GSA) System for Award Management (SAM).

It is at this point that small businesses are being scammed into thinking that they must pay high registration fees in order to become eligible to bid on government contracts. This could not be farther from the truth. Both the registration and bidding are 100% free and open to all businesses.

The problem actually begins once you register. At this point your information becomes public and that is where and when the scammers get a hold of it. Everything you listed in your registration is available to them; your name, your business name, phone number, email address, and more.

These scammers then act as either real consultants or government officials and begin calling and emailing you almost immediately after you register.  Scammers will go to lengths of impersonating government officials just to mislead you into paying them.

Most small business owners do not know that there is free help for the registration and bidding process that is provided to them by existing federal programs. Therefore they end up engaging with the scammers who are seeking hundreds if not thousands of dollars for their so called registration and contract bidding help.

There are many companies providing legitimate registration and contract bidding help.  If your business does elect to engage a consultant, make sure you check them out. Do they have a BBB.org listing and rating?If not or if it not at least an "A", you should probably stay away. Ask for references of businesses they have helped to successfully obtain contract awards. Remember contract awards are public so you can see business that were awarded contracts. Since their business data is also public, you can call them to ask if they used the consultant and what was their experience.

There is also the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC). They want to get your business the help you need at no cost. They are a nationwide network of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC). You can search to find the one closest to you and, more than likely, get all the registration and contract bidding help you need for free.

Avoiding Small Business Scams, Build Business Credit, Lender Compliance Items