End of Financial Year: directory and fax back scams targeting small businesses

30 June 2010

With the end of the financial year upon us, small businesses across Australia are busy tidying up their financial affairs. However, this time is not only busy for business, but for scammers as well.

Scams targeting business come disguised in various forms: from billing for advertising that was never requested to dubious office supplies that were never ordered. More recently, overpayment scams and dodgy investment opportunities have been added to the mix.

One scam that causes many headaches involves advertising or online directories. If your business receives an invoice for advertising in a telephone directory, trade journal or online directory, SCAMwatch urges you to check it carefully before you provide any details or make any payments. Are you really only being asked to update your details? Is the service really free? Do you want to pay to advertise in that directory?

It’s not uncommon for scammers to use a name or logo similar to a genuine and reputable directory, so don’t be fooled.

Tax time is busy. Take steps to protect your business - and don’t let a scammer take a slice of your profits.

Protect yourself

  • The best defence is to protect your business. Limit who has authority to buy or order anything; keep written records of all orders and purchases; and only deal with people you know and trust.
  • If you are unsure whether you have received a legitimate invoice or request, contact the organisation. Don’t rely on contact details provided to you in an email - obtain the details through an internet search, telephone directory or official letters/statements from organisations like banks.
  • Remember that government agencies, banks and financial institutions will never send emails requesting verification of personal details for any reason, including tax returns.
  • Make sure you and your staff remain informed and alert to small business scams by signing up to receive SCAMwatch radar alerts.

Report

You can report a scam to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch.

More information

For more information about how you can protect yourself and your small business, check out the small business scams page on SCAMwatch and the Small Business Scams Fact Sheet.

For more information about a recent example of an online directory billing scam, visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. [link no longer available]

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