Most scams target consumers. You might get a bill for a magazine subscription you never ordered or a fake money order that the sender wants you to cash at your bank before sending along the money. However, B2B scams have become increasingly commonplace, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and business owners must pay careful attention to their billing practices if they want to avoid becoming victims themselves.
The FTC has noticed an uptick in fake yellow-page listing invoices. The scamming company sends the target company a bill for the listing and demands payment. However, the target company never ordered the listing -- and, in fact, the listing doesn't exist.
Before your A/P department satisfies an invoice, your staff must verify its origins. A glance at the company's purchase history can help with this process. A/P personnel should flag suspicious invoices for closer scrutiny by management.
The Internet makes it easy to check on companies that might not have legitimate origins. A simple Google search might reveal a scam-in-progress so you don't become a victim.
Scam artists sometimes use business names that closely resemble real companies. For instance, there might be a real ABC Supplies in your town, and the scam artist uses the name ABC Suppliers to throw you off. This works particularly well if you routinely use ABC Supplies. Your brain automatically "corrects" the name and you write the check.
When searching for information about a company, type the name exactly as it appears on the invoice or letter. You'll have a better chance of uncovering useful information and protecting your business bank account.
Learn about the most common B2B scams so you know where to focus your efforts. Businessing Mag reveals that B2B scams often involve suppliers, business listing services, website hosting companies, and charities.
Give those types of companies the most scrutiny when you receive correspondence. However, keep your eyes open for other types of B2B fraud. When scam artists realize that business owners know what to look for, they'll shift gears and invent new scams.
It's impossible to prevent B2B scams all by yourself. Involve your team in the fight against fraud so you have multiple sets of eyes on alert. Hold a seminar or webinar to explain how B2B scams work and to teach your team how to recognize potential threats.
If you don't have time to hold a live event, write a white paper or brochure about B2B scams and distribute it far and wide. Encourage employees to read it on company time.
If you believe you've been the victim of a B2B scam, let the FTC know. You'll increase the chances of sending the scam artists to jail and you'll protect other businesses in your community.
Running a business is often stressful and fraught with hazards. In addition to information about avoiding B2B scams, Seacoast is equipped with small business banking solutions to help your business thrive.