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How to avoid scams

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SmallBusiness.com How-tos are step-by-step instructions for specific small business tasks. They are created and edited by readers like you. You can help edit this How-to or you can create your own. Find more How-tos at the SmallBusiness.com How-to Hub.

Introduction

Even if you think you've taken every precaution to avoid fraud, your business still could be susceptible to scams. There are literally dozens of scams that can target small business owners at any time, and they come from the whole spectrum of sources: email scams, fax offers, phony phone calls and work-at-home offers, not to mention internal threats from staff.

Tips to keep your business scam-free

Keep your guard up. Work alongside your employees, even if you think they're trustworthy. Even if you've trusted a bookkeeper who has been doing your work forever, you must realize that he or she is in the best position to steal from you.

Give employees a break. Making employees use their vacation time helps you keep a closer eye on finances. A common thread seems to be that employees get caught while out on vacation or sick. Someone else does their job in their absence, and when something looks weird, indiscretions are found.

Do your research. The Internet exposes your information to the world. But it also helps you investigate scams. If you get an e-mail and you're not sure about the subject matter, a quick search on Google will come up with a blog or forum where the topic is being discussed.

Pay attention. Be a glass-half-full person, but go through some simple due diligence. For example, perform simple reference checks.

External links

There are many online resources that can help you steer clear of scams targeting your small business:

  • www.fraud.org: The National Fraud Information Center was established in 1992 by the National Consumers League to fight the mounting problem of telemarketing fraud by improving prevention and enforcement.
  • www.ftc.org: The Federal Trade Commission offers a wealth of information related to small business scams, such as spamming and phishing.
  • www.bbb.org: The Better Business Bureau offers information about complaints filed against any company you might have questions about.