Guest Post by Amethyst Mahoney of AmethystMahoney.com
Scammers are now targeting small business owners. There are so many successful (and not-so-sucessful) business owners at there that you are now being targeting.
Most of the scammers are attempting to get various smallish amounts of money from you (up to about $150 or so), and they’re counting on the fact that you are overwhelmed and unorganized in your business – so you may not even notice the charges until it’s too late.
Could you be their next victim? Here are four ways to avoid it:
1. Get organized! You know that you are losing countless hours searching through paperwork, emails, and materials each week. But did you also know that not being organized makes it easier for scammers to fool you?
Keep records handy. You can also keep your passwords and business materials in a lock box or locked filing cabinet so they are close at hand but not accessible to just anyone.
2. Read documents carefully. Scammers like to make their letters, which sometimes come through postal mail (not just email), look official. I received one yesterday from Domain Registry of America, stating that my domains were due to expire soon and I could renew at lower rates.
I happen to know who hosts my domains, and I have no intention of switching (HostGator is awesome). When I looked closer, I realized that in very small print, the letter said to “switch” your domain registry provider. The prices were about twice what I’m paying now.
This morning I also looked around about this particular company and found a lot of information about them, how they are scammers, and how they have already settled with the Feds once but are still sending out misleading info. Beware. This isn’t the only company doing this.
3. Never ever give your information to anyone over the internet or anyone who calls you. These days no one will legitimately ask you for your information over the phone or email. In fact with some companies you actually have to jump through hoops to get things changed or just to provide your new information to them.
If anyone contacts you through email asking for your info, you can be 100% assured that it’s a scam. You can send that email to the Consumer Reporting Agency. There’s also info there about the latest scams.
If you think it’s legitimate, get the person’s name, company, phone number and extension. Then look up the company and call by the info you get off the internet. Ask for the person by name. 9 times out of 10 you will find out that the person doesn’t exist at that company.
4. If you’re unsure, Google it. You can bet that there’s info on the scam out there. I had a very belligerent person call my cell phone a few years ago threatening me with a lawsuit if I didn’t pay for a loan I had already paid off. When I Googled the phone number, I got tons of hits on the scamming company that had contacted me.
These are some great tips to keep you from becoming a victim of a scam. But sometimes things happen. Or people steal your credit card information. Or people hack into a company’s system and get your info. I personally use LifeLock just in case. For $16 a month, they step in when someone tries to scam me.
Some people say LifeLock is a scam itself and preys off people’s fears. But last year we had a series of fraudulent charges on our credit card from Australia. It was great to have someone in our corner and to know that we would not be held liable for the charges. It could have turned into an ugly mess.
Make sure you have your own plan too, and always read the fine print.
This post is not to scare you. But you do need to be prepared. ;-)
Michelle Amethyst Mahoney helps holistic small business owners who are struggling to find clients and are feeling overwhelmed attract more clients and make more money so they can serve their bigger purpose in the World and help more people without burning out.
Amethyst now offers certifications in BAFB as well as other holistic and spiritual coursework. You can find her at www.AmethystMahoney.com.