When you are on your couch with your laptop seated squarely on your legs, you know all of the things to look out for. You don’t open attachments in unsolicited emails. You don’t shop on sites unless you see “https” in your search bar. Are you taking the same precautions at the office? 

If you have a small business, you need to be aware that there are dangers lurking on the Internet that could be specifically targeted to you. You may not shop from work and maybe you check all your emails from home, but if you are signing on and doing any sort of work online, you’ve got to know what’s out there. You are putting yourself and your company at risk if you don’t pay attention to detail.  

As we head into the New Year, a renewed sense of vigilance is a good thing. Keep reading to discover the Internet scams that could really harm your business and what you can do to avoid them. 

  1. Small Business Awards (The Fake Ones)

Of course you would love to win an award. Con artists know this, so watch out. While there are legitimate awards out there, others are designed to get you to hand over financial information. If you are contacted with regards to being given an award, research the company handing it out before you accept it. If you are asked to give your credit card information or “sign up” for a membership, be very careful. There are some companies out there who are legitimate and do require a membership to their organization in order to receive your award, but those are few.  

  1. Email Phishing

You know what to look for when it comes to phishing scams on your home computer, but are you just as vigilant when you are at your desk? These scams are designed to spread viruses through your computer and into your network. You and your employees should avoid opening emails from people and companies you don’t recognize. You should avoid clicking on any link that is contained in an email that seems as though it could be a bit off. Each computer on your network should have anti-phishing and anti-malware software installed. 

  1. Overpayment Leads to a Refund!

You sell something to a customer online. They pay by check, sending you way too much. They then contact you and ask you to wire them a refund. Don’t. If someone pays by check, you should wait for it to clear before you ship their item. If someone sends you a check that is made out for more than what they are being charged, mark it void and send it back. Contact the customer and arrange for another method of payment. 

  1. The Yellow Pages

You may get a call from someone who says they represent the Yellow Pages or some other type of phone directory. If the person who answers the phone provides information, you may find yourself with an invoice for a directory listing you didn’t want. If you refuse to pay, you can expect multiple phone calls and even letters threatening legal action. Don’t be taken in by these scams. Whoever answers the phones should know that they are not to provide information about your company and ask for an application or letter from the company instead. Chances are it will never come. 

  1. But You Need Office Supplies

Of course you need pens and paper and printers and Post-Its. When you need them, you order them. To avoid scams like these that have cost small business owners close to $250 million every year, shop for supplies yourself or have one trusted employee tasked with the job. Use the same office supply store each time and keep your credit card information out of the hands of every single employee. It’s not to say that one of your employees is going to steal from you, but they could provide that credit card information to someone claiming there is an open invoice. 

  1. Small Business Loans

Con artists know that small business owners often need loans. Even if you have shopped for the loan yourself, make sure that you conduct an adequate amount of research into any company you decide to accept money from. A reputable lender will have a physical address, not a P.O. box, and will be registered to conduct financial transactions. If you are asked for any type of credit check fee, registration fee or other fee up front, you may have run into a scammer. 

  1. IRS Scams

No one wants to deal with the IRS. In fact, many people have a healthy fear of the organization. Bad guys know this and will use that fear to their advantage. IRS scams are all the rage right now and are paying out big. Know this: If the IRS has an issue with you, they will contact you through the mail. You will not receive notice over the phone.The IRS will not threaten to arrest you, ask for your Social Security number over the phone or demand immediate payment outside of a formal letter. 

Protecting your small business from nefarious individuals takes diligence. When you know what is out there and what you could possible fall victim to, you are better prepared to avoid being taken advantage of. Make sure that 2018 doesn’t leave you wishing you would have never clicked on that attachment. 

Get Cyber Security Help from Company.com 

As we move into 2018, cyber security has become more important than ever. Make sure you are constantly staying on top of your security measures, from firewalls to virus detection, to keep your small business safe. At Company.com, our small business tech support services can help you make sure you’re protected. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your company thrive, or to start a free trial of our premium software suite.