January 3, 2021
Ecommerce Sellers, Don't Fall For These 5 Scams
Influencer Marketing is a $10 billion business because it works. However, it also attracts lots of unscrupulous people looking to separate hard-working online sellers from their money. Keep an eye out for these three popular scams targeting you right now.
1. The “You’ve Won a Big Industry Award” Scam
An industry magazine you’ve never heard of contacts you to say you have been shortlisted as one of the “Top 10 ……Startups/Businesses in the ….Industry” for their upcoming annual issue. Details such as wanting to interview your CEO and more will make it sound more legitimate. They want you to capitalize on this recognition by purchasing a reprint package of collateral to showcase in your promotions and on social. You are eager to show off your award and earn cred with your customers, so you send the $....and never hear another word.
How to avoid: Awards are not unheard of, but google them first to make sure they are a legitimate program, run by a real publication. If you can’t find them on Google, they are not legit!
2. The “Coronavirus Stimulus Payment” Scam
News stories about financial help for businesses affected by COVID are prolific these days. Criminals are capitalizing on this and sending phony pitches claiming there’s money available for you from a government agency. All you need to do is make an up-front payment or provide some personal information.
How to avoid: The government will never ask you to pay anything up front to get stimulus money. No fees. No charges. No nothing. The government will also never call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does, is a scammer. If you want more information about who is getting stimulus money and how to get it, go to https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.
3. The “Scramble for Supplies” Scam
Many businesses found their traditional suppliers disrupted by Covid, so they’ve been hard-pressed to find new suppliers. Con artists know this and are making websites to mimic the look of well-known online retailers. They claim to have the essentials you need, but in reality, they’re fakes that take your “order,” grab your credit card number, and run.
How to avoid: The safer strategy is to type in URLs you know to be genuine. And before taking a chance on an unfamiliar supplier, check them out with trusted industry colleagues.
4. The “Your Business Has Been Affected by COVID” Robocall Scam
As a small business owner, you may have received a new crop of annoying – and illegal – robocalls. It’s no surprise that fraudsters who already flout the law would try to exploit people’s COVID concerns to make a buck. Some of these tele-phonies call to warn you that your business listings have been affected by COVID and they can help you “ensure your Google listing is correctly displaying or customers may not find you online during this crucial time.”
How to avoid: These calls are definitely not from Google, so don’t be fooled. If you’re in doubt, search your listings yourself and then contact Google through the proper channels.
5. The “We’ve Infiltrated Your Network” Scam
Hackers never rest and the current environment of telecommuting has caused some companies to drop their online defenses. This is making it easier to infiltrate data-rich networks. You don’t want to have to explain to your customers how their credit card information was stolen.
How to avoid: Don’t ease up on your security. Keep your system and firewall up to date. Educate your customers and employees about keeping data secure over email, text, and chat if they are working remotely. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has great resources online including their Telework Security Overview and Tip Guide. Business.com also has a great article on securing your online store: 5 Best Practices to Secure Your Online Store.
If you spot a bogus pitch, report it to the Federal Trade Commission. There’s a special link just for COVID-19 frauds. To keep up with the latest scams, you can sign up for the FTC's consumer alerts.