It’s challenging enough to run a successful CNC machine shop these days without worrying about people trying to steal from you. Unfortunately, it’s a reality we all must face. Certainly, there have always been thieves and con artists, however today’s technologies and the rapid pace of business provide new opportunities for them to get hold of your hard earned dollars. Following are 5 of the most common scams aimed at businesses of all sizes and what you can do to keep the scammers’ fingers out of your pocket.
Request for financial information. You get an email purportedly from a government agency, credit bureau, credit card company, etc. that looks authentic, right down to the logos, addresses and phone numbers. Or you get a call from a “representative” of one of these institutions and your caller ID clearly shows their correct name. They inform you that they are investigating a fraud and need your banking, credit card or other financial data. Of course, it’s a scam and they will use the information to drain your bank account or make purchases on your credit card. No business would fall for that? Sadly, it happens every day. That’s why it’s imperative that you train every person in your organization to never respond to such requests. Instead, call the fraud department of the named institution and report the contact.
Charitable solicitations. It’s sad but true that virtually every major tragedy spawns bogus requests to help the victims. From 9/11 to Newtown Connecticut to Tropical Storm Sandy, the scammers crawl out from under their rocks and attempt to cash in the misery of others. Equally reprehensible are charities that adopt names similar to legitimate organizations like The American Cancer Society, and solicit donations. While genuine charities spend the bulk of their income on their stated causes, these imitators make only token, if any, contributions to the cause and pocket the lion’s share. Never respond to charitable solicitations unless you know the charity is legitimate. You can also check them out with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB lists charities that meet their criteria for legitimacy on their Web site, www.bbb.org.
Password theft. An official looking email shows up indicating that you must reset your password for your online banking, credit card or other Web site. When you click the link it asks you to enter your current password and BINGO! The scammer has access to you account. Typically you won’t be asked to reset a password via an email, but rather when you initiate a visit to the site. Never click the link in such an email. Not only could it capture your password, it may also download malware to your computer system that can wreak havoc in a number of ways. Instead, access the legitimate Web site as you normally do and most likely there will be no request for a new password.
Bogus shipping information. Another way to infect your computers with a nasty virus is through an email purportedly from UPS, FedEx, the USPS or another shipping company. The email instructs you to download the shipping information attachment (usually a ZIP file) that actually contains the virus. Again, never download a file that is at all suspect.
Phony awards. We all like our businesses to be recognized. For example being named a Supplier of the Year by one of our customers. However there are con artists out there who will notify you that you’ve won a prestigious national honor that doesn’t even exist. The catch is that you must pay a fee, make a donation to the organization or buy an expensive trophy commemorating the award. Don’t let your ego get in the way of recognizing this for the scam that it is and save your money. Legitimate awards are bestowed for real achievements by recognized institutions.
These are just a few examples of the underhanded schemes designed to take your money and cause you grief. There are countless variations that can arrive in your email, over the phone or even via snail mail. The best defense is to make certain that everyone in your organization is on the lookout for anything that just doesn’t seem right. And that no one gives out any private information without authorization.