Consumer Protection
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How to Protect Yourself: Small Business Scams
Source: Florida Attorney General's Office


Small businesses have increasingly become the target of scam-artists who use their knowledge of small business practices to fraudulently induce these businesses to pay for services never performed and for products never delivered. These scam-artists use a number of different techniques which include: sending phony invoices for items never ordered; using prizes as an inducement to sell overpriced office equipment and supplies; and sending phony yellow page advertisement renewal forms which are actually contracts for advertisement in other directories.

Verify Invoices
Employ procedures to verify any and all incoming invoices prior to payment. Compile a listing of all suppliers with which you normally do business by name, address and phone number and make the list available to anyone responsible for the payment of your invoices.

Educate Your Workers
Make your workers aware of the most common types of scams against small businesses. Obtain pamphlets and literature concerning small business fraud from your local police agency or consumer affairs bureau. Post this information at your business.

Don't Buy Over The Phone
Unless you have a previously established relationship with a supplier of business or office supplies, never make orders or purchases over the phone. Scammers sometimes obtain the names of business employees and assert that these persons have placed orders on behalf of the business. Instruct your employees to verify the order with the person by whom it was placed.

Ask For Verification Of Offers In Writing
If a caller makes an offer regarding the provision of goods or services and if that offer interests you, request that the offer be made in writing and forwarded to you for review. Be wary if the caller refuses to forward this information to you or to otherwise provide references.

Beware Of Prize Offers
Small business scam-artists often offer prizes as an inducement for the business to purchase their products. Be aware that these "prizes" are usually overpriced or are of inferior quality.

Do Not Be Influenced By A Money Back Guarantee
These guarantees are only as good as the companies offering them.