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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Top 5 small business scams

Kirstin Davis,BBB

The Small Business Administration reports the percentage of self-employed seniors has been steadily on the rise since 2000.

The data shows the percentage of individuals 62 years and older who were self-employed increased fro 4.2 percent in 1988 to 5.4 percent in 2015. The Better Business Bureau knows scammers often target seniors, so it is important these business owners stay adept to common scams occurring to small businesses.

Here are a few tips for small business owners and local nonprofit organizations who have a lot to think about and ways to avoid these common scams.

    Internet & Phone: Watch out for Ransomware, Phishing, URL Hustle and Spoofing scams. Scammers play on fear, convenience and lack of technical knowledge. BBB receives complaints each year from business owners who have been scammed out of money or important business information by people who know how to speak in business terms.

    Directories: A business owner or office manager may receive an invoice for a printed or online directory renewal notice. Scammers are counting on the fact that business owners have a lot on their plate and will make these notices appear, legitimate, local or industry targeted. Keep a list of directories you are published in and evaluate the values of those directories on an annual basis.

    Office Supplies: Business owners may receive a box of supplies as either a “gift” or with an invoice included. Scammers are taking the opportunity to see if a busy owner will pay the invoice with no questions asked. If the “gifted” items are sent back, the business may receive a bill for a high percentage restocking fee. Another red flag is a contact describing a “going out of business” sale offering significant discounts on supply items that are misquoted or never arrive at all.

    Overpayment: A scammer may over pay for the item or service and then ask for a refund to be sent by wire or cashier’s check. Most likely the form of payment was fraudulent and the scammer is trying to pocket the overpayment. The business owner is then out of the product if sent and additional revenue.

    Vanity Awards: “Best of” or “Who’s Who” in your industry are great recognition. Business owners want to be sure the award is legitimate and that it isn’t just a way to pay very high prices for plaques to display in your office.

Anyone who has believes they may have been a victim of one of these scams should contact their local law enforcement and report it to BBB Scam Tracker at

For more consumer protection tips and information on BBB investigations, visit

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