Scam Reports and Advice
most common scams targeting Queensland business
Scams were again a top 10 complaint item to the Office of Fair Trading during 2005, and it seems businesses have remained in the scammers' sights.
If you've been in business for long enough, chances are you've been targeted by a scam. It is estimated that up to one in four businesses fall victim to scams each year, netting scammers more than $3 billion.
How your business deals with the scam holds the key to avoiding becoming a future target - falling for a scam once can set your business up to be targeted again and again.
Scams targeting businesses range from fake invoices to con artists trying to convince you over the phone to pay up for goods or services you haven't ordered.
Scammers regularly contact businesses by fax, phone, email or in writing and generally rely on the fact many businesses are too busy to question their claims. Another preferred tactic is to use persuasive language and high-pressure tactics to get businesses to pay money quickly.
The most common scams targeting Queensland business include:
- Telephone fraud - a form of telemarketing that aims to make you pay for or join up to something that does not exist, or give out your personal financial details.
- Online scams - trick you into giving credit card or bank account details, or request money for a bogus service such as internet domain name renewal.
- Invoice fraud - fake invoices sent to you requesting payment, often for advertising in non-existent directories or publications.
- Fax-back scams - faxes that ask you to fax back an order to a 1902 number that often charges a high rate to receive information, often for disposal sales.
- Pyramid selling/chain letters/email scams - involves promises of money for every person you sign up, asks for a fee from each person who receives them, or requests bank account details.
- Phoney competition/lottery scams - ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize from a competition or lottery that you never entered.
- Door-to-door sales schemes - people who pressure you to buy products you haven't seen or don't want.
- Bogus charity collectors - people who pretend to work for a charity when they don't, and
- Itinerant traders - people who offer to do work but ask for payment up front then either don't complete the work or do poor quality work.
Scammers are usually so good at what they do that most businesses don't even know they've been scammed until it's too late. However, you can protect both yourself and your business by taking the following steps:
- Check with your business association or the Office of Fair Trading for details on the latest scams.
- Be wary of unsolicited contact from people demanding quick payment, especially when high-pressure tactics are used.
- Keep good accounting records - check invoices thoroughly, enter invoices into a computerised system before payment, and don't rush payments through.
- Restrict the number of staff with the power to authorise payments.
- Be wary when sellers insist that someone else in your office has approved the payment, or if you can't recall dealing with the caller before but they insist you have.
- Don't approve purchases over the phone - always get something in writing first and ask questions if the caller refuses or delays in sending you information.
If you suspect your business has been the target of a scam, make sure you report it to the Office of Fair Trading in your state or in Qld, visiting the website. Reporting the scam will also give you access to professional advice on any possible redress options and allows us to get the word out to other businesses.