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How do I identify common business scams?

Written by Peter Carter • Senior Accountant
Published on 23 Apr 2019

Have you ever been contacted via phone, via text message or email that looks suspicious, leaving you thinking, is this a scam?

If so then you should know that scams can come in many forms and if you are uncertain about a message or a call then you should check Scams Awareness Network.

Scams have become very sophisticated in the last couple of years and many Australians have been fleeced unwittingly of their hard-earned cash. The idea of the scam is to scare you into action to pay their demands. They pretend to be from a government agency, electricity company, telco, a bank and even police. They threaten you with fines, disconnection, court arrest or deportation.

Below is a list of types of scams that exist and a brief description of how they work and how to avoid them. This should help you answer that common question we keep on hearing: How do I identify common business scams?

 

Threats to life

Threats to life or arrest are scams that try to get you to pay money that you supposedly owe, and they threaten you with legal proceedings or arrest.

 

Remote access scams

Scammers will try to convince you that you have an internet problem and try to get you to install software to allow them to remotely access your device, compromising confidential details and information in the process. For those who have passwords saved on a local device, this scam can prove to be especially deadly.

 

Phishing

Get you to provide your personal information such as a bank account, passwords or credit card number. This is usually successfully accomplished by scammers who do a good job of disguising themselves as a trustworthy source. This could be an email with all the key markers of your bank of choice or a link to a website that looks familiar at face value. This allows them to easily compromise your login details. 

If you think a website login may be suspicious. Try logging in with made-up details. If it allows you through despite the fake details you’ve used, it’s safe to say that you’re not safe at all.

Thankfully, the details that they will receive will give them nothing of value at all.

 

Identity Theft

Some scammers may attempt to use your identity to steal money or gain other benefits that are attached to details associated with your identity. This can prove to be considerably destructive and problematic depending on the amount of damage a scammer was able to create. Proving your identity to organisations is just the beginning of an especially difficult road for those who’ve had their identity stolen.

 

False Billing

Occasionally, you may receive fake bills requesting you to pay for directory listings, advertising, domain names or office supplies that you haven’t ordered. Unless your accounts are properly tracked, it is relatively easy for a scam like this to penetrate your businesses security. Larger businesses are especially susceptible to this type of scam.

 

What should I do if I think someone is trying to scam me?

If you are faced with one of these types of demands or messages, stop and think, is this real? Check scams awareness network or ask a trusted friend or colleague or your IT professional.

Whatever you do don’t feel pressured into paying or providing details to the person on the phone without confirming the amounts are due. Take their name, contact details and ask them to send a letter of confirmation the address they have on file. Don’t provide them with any further information.

Government departments will never request you to pay by unusual methods such as by iTunes cards, Bitcoin or wire transfers.

 

What should I look out for to avoid being scammed?

Always be suspicious of texts, pop-up windows or emails especially ones with attachments from unknown sources. If in doubt delete.

Also, never allow anyone remote access to your computer if they have rung you. It’s a high probability that it is a scam and they are trying to access your computer to ransomware it or steal private information.

Just be careful. There are threats are out there and if you are a victim to a scam there may be very little the police can do to help retrieve money or personal details and the effects could last several years.

 

Check out another recent blog in this category.

Peter is a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and has completed an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance Law). Peter has worked with Fitzpatrick Group since July 2002. Author • Peter Carter

Senior Accountant, Fitzpatrick Group

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