Small business owners and sole proprietors should be on the lookout for Better Business Bureau imposters.
Con artists are calling businesses, stating they are from the BBB and claiming that the business is eligible for a special referral list for $5 or more per month. If the targeted business provides credit card information, the scammers use it to make fraudulent purchases, hoping to avoid detection until the next statement arrives.
In another con, the BBB imposters send an email to a business, claiming that a response to a complaint against the company is required. This email scam could turn bad in a few ways as it could contain a link that leads to website phishing for personal or financial information, such as passwords, bank accounts or credit card information.
The email could contain a link to a webpage that downloads malware or spyware, or alternately an attachment that does the same, or it could lead to a longer con, including phony complaints and requests for processing fees, even ramping up to expensive mediation or arbitration costs.
At times, it can be difficult to tell the impersonators from the real thing. Con artists can pretend to be from government agencies, sweepstakes, banks, credit card companies and even organizations like the BBB.
The following tips will help you recognize imposters and avoid their scams:
- Never reply, click on links or open attachments from unexpected emails. Instead contact the agency or organization by phone or email using official, verified information.
- When official-looking postal mail or email arrives, take a few minutes to contact the agency or search online for possible scams.
- If someone who calls you asks for private information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, or account log-in information, stop the conversation and ask for the person’s name and callback number. Then tell them you are going to verify who they are by calling the agency directly at a trustworthy number. By following through, you can thwart scammers.
- If you are ever asked to pay fees by wire transfer or a pre-paid debit card, then you can be sure you are dealing with a scammer.
If you are targeted by a scam, report it to the agency or organization in question to help stop future scams. You can spot scams happening in your area and report scams using the BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker.
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