If you own a business or run a non-profit, you spend a lot of time making sure everything runs smoothly. But when scammers go after your organization, they can hurt your reputation and bottom line. Your best protection is educating your colleagues on the signs of scams.

Here are some of the most common scams small businesses look out for, according to the Federal Trade Commission:


Fake Invoices

Scammers hope the person paying your bills will assume it’s for something the company actually ordered and pay it without a second glance. Be detailed when going over finances.

Unordered Office Supplies

These often show up at your doorstep alongside high-pressure demands to pay for it, sometimes with a tape of a call as “proof” that the order was placed.

Directory Listing or Advertising Scams

These scammers try to fool you into paying for nonexistent ads or listings. They may ask you to provide contact information for a “free listing” or say they’re calling to confirm an existing order. Later you’ll get a big bill and be pressured to pay. Keep track of ads you place and where, and only do so with companies you trust.

Imposter Scams

Scammers pretend to be a utility company that needs a bill paid immediately or services will be interrupted, or a government official threatening to suspend business licenses, impose fines or take legal action.

Tech Support Scams

It might start with a phone call or an alarming pop-up message pretending to be from a well-known company saying there’s a problem with your computer security. These scammers are trying to get your money or gain access to your computer files. When in doubt, call your tech support company directly.

Scammers can be tricky, but the best defense is making sure your employees understand the risks and what to do in any of these situations. Here are some tips from the FTC:

  • Don’t trust caller IDs. Scammers are able to manipulate these numbers to appear legitimate. When in doubt, hang up and call the company/person/entity they are claiming to be back.

  • Be wary of unknown senders and suspicious emails. Scammers can easily fake legitimate-looking websites and email addresses. Don’t open attachments, download files or click links from unexpected emails.

  • Secure your organization’s files, passwords, and financial information. Get help from a professional tech support company if needed