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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2022 > Business Impersonation Scams Are on the Rise

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Business Impersonation Scams Are on the Rise

Consumers choose to work with businesses they trust, but that trust can be wiped out in an instant by an impersonation scam. Fraudsters know that consumers are more likely to click on a link that appears to come from a trusted business.
In some instances, the scammer impersonates a popular online business with which many people have accounts. The scammer might call, text or send an email to confirm a purchase that the scammer knows the consumer did not make. After the consumer says that he or she did not make the purchase, the scammer asks the consumer for his/her banking information to initiate the refund process. Instead of refunding money, however, the scammer takes money from the consumer’s account.
Here are some ways to avoid a business impersonation scam:
  • Check your accounts first before clicking on a link. If you receive an unusual text or email claiming to be from a trusted business, do not click on the link in the message. Check your accounts though verified websites or phone numbers to make sure that the accounts are intact and that you have not purchased any unwanted items. Something to look for: Many times a fake link contains a slight misspelling or differs slightly in other ways from the legitimate website.
  • Never call back an unknown number. Use the information on the company website and not a number listed in an unexpected email or text.
  • Don’t pay a stranger with a gift card.  If anyone asks you to pay with a gift card, it’s likely a scam.
  • Don’t give remote access to someone who contacts you unexpectedly.  The contact might claim to be from a government office, computer repair company or popular online store. Remote access to your computer or other electronic devices gives scammers easy access to your personal and financial information, such as bank account information.
Also, keep in mind that “phishing” emails and “smishing” texts are commonplace. These are communications typically meant to trick the consumer into clicking on links in a message so the sender can steal personal information and/or money.
For example, you may receive an email or text message instructing you to click on a link to confirm your account information. The message will likely include a threat that you must do this within a limited period of time or your account will be suspended. By entering your username and password on a fake account, the scammer can then steal your personal information to gain access to your account.
If you get an unwanted email or text messages claiming to be a business, there are four ways to report it:
  • Report it on the messaging app you use. Look for the option to report junk or spam.
  • Copy the message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM).
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission at
  • Report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at
Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.