Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > March 2012 > Protect Your Small Business from Scams

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Protect Your Small Business from Scams

Every day the Ohio Attorney General’s Office receives complaints from consumers and businesses working hard to make ends meet. Among these complaints are reports of scams targeting businesses.  

Scammers are increasingly using new technology and clever schemes to make a quick profit. Protect your business by being aware of the latest scams.

Common scams include:
•    Advance fee loans and grant scams– Scam artists can trick you into paying money to qualify for a loan or credit card for your business. Despite their guarantees, you will not receive any money. Never pay money to qualify for a loan, credit card, or grant. 
•    Business directory scams – Scammers pretend to be associated with the local city government, chamber, or yellow pages. They call saying it’s time for your business to renew ad space in the local community map or directory and ask for credit card numbers over the phone, using high pressure tactics. The ads are non-existent and the scammer steals money using the credit card number given.
•    Counterfeit bills – The Athens City Police Department reported a rash of counterfeit bills being used. Scammers would "wash" a $5 bill to make it appear to be a $10 or $20 bill. Because the $5 bill was real, a pen marker would not identify the washed bill as counterfeit, even though the currency had been changed to show an inaccurate denomination. Before accepting cash, be sure that watermarks and security strips match the denomination on bills.
•    Spoofing scams–Don’t trust your caller ID. Scam¬mers use technology called Voice over Internet Protocol or “spoofing” to disguise the number that ap¬pears on your caller ID. The caller ID may show your bank or government agency, when the call is actually coming from a scammer. If you receive a call ask¬ing for personal or financial information, hang up.
•    Office supplies scams– Your business gets a call from a scammer claiming to be your regular office supply company with a “great deal” on copier paper, toner, etc. After you buy the supplies, either the supplies never come or they are of inferior quality. 
•    Fake invoice scams – Your business receives an invoice for a product or service you never ordered. The scammer hopes you will pay the invoice before realizing you never ordered or received the products. 
•    Government regulation scams – Scammers charge your business a fee to help you comply with a new government regulation. They might even pretend to be the Secretary of State and ask for payment to comply with a new requirement or registration. Businesses in Ohio can receive free information and assistance from their local or state governmental agencies.
•    Business “imposter” scams – Unfortunately, some scammers use the names of reputable businesses to make their ploys seem legitimate. One reported scammer pretended to be the local health department in order to obtain sensitive information from a business. Then the scammer used the business’s information to create a bogus Web site and sell fake coupons to consumers.

If you suspect fraud, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting