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Scammers rely on the fact that you are very busy and are more likely to provide information to help them carry out their fraudulent activities.
If you believe you have been scammed, you need to do five things immediately.
Scammers target businesses in a range of ways and you need to be vigilant so you are not scammed.
False billing targets businesses by telephone, mail, email and fax. The scammer will supply you with an invoice for products or services you have not ordered or received, hoping, because you are busy, that the invoice will be paid.
Fair Trading is targeting false billing scams aimed at small businesses throughout 2012.
If you run a business that has been targeted by a false billing scam, we would like you to report your experience to Fair Trading. Our investigations rely on people who to report illegal conduct. You can also assist us to prosecute scammers by providing a written statement and then attending Court. For that reason, we are not accepting anonymous information.
|Report false billing scams
To report false billing schemes, please lodge an online complaint.
A representative from a magazine or directory calls and asks for you by name and then falsely claims that they spoke to you several months earlier and you agreed to purchase an advertisement or a directory listing.
Often you will be asked for a special code or word, which is later used against you as proof that you agreed to purchase the advertising. Sometimes they will falsely claim the magazine is about to go to print and if you don't pay immediately, you will miss the print deadline.
The scammer may also contact you via fax offering you a directory listing or similar service. Once you have completed the offer, you will begin to receive demands for payment from the company for a service you will not receive.
Alternatively, you may receive an invoice demanding money for an advertisement in a magazine or to re-new an entry in a business directory that you have never heard of.
Be careful of scammers who use existing company names and names that sound similar to legitimate publications but which don't actually exist.
A domain name must be renewed every couple of years. Domain name renewal scams can work in one of two ways. You might be sent an invoice for a domain name that is very similar to your current domain name but might for example end in net.au instead of com.au – the scammer hopes that you don’t notice the difference and just pay the invoice. Alternatively you could be sent a letter that looks like a renewal notice for your actual domain name, but is from a different company to the one you registered your domain name with.
A scammer calls you claiming to be a representative from a reputable information technology firm. The scammer asks you to turn on your computer and provide certain information, so that the scammer can take control of your computer and get your banking details.
These scams aim to get you to hand over your banking, business and personal information by sending you emails, often saying they are from your bank, asking you to verify your account details, including your password.
Telephone scams are also known as ‘blowing’ or telemarketing fraud. Scammers convince you that:
Business opportunity scams are offered through spam email, a phone call or letter, offering you a way to make a lot of money quickly.
The offer could be a scam if you:
Be wary if the business offering the opportunity only provides a post office box address.
A fax back scam is an unsolicited fax that can offer you anything from amazing diets to fantastic deals, business directory entries, competition entries or catalogues of goods and services – all you have to do is send a fax back to a premium rate number (starting with 190). Premium rate faxes can be charged at more than $6 per minute. The scammers make sure your fax will take several minutes to get through, resulting in hefty, unnecessary phone bills (a single fax could cost you $20 or $30).
Scams frequently cross national boundaries so business owners need to be on the alert for suspect deals offered by overseas organisations. In one scam, people claiming to be representatives of the Nigerian Government targeted firms with the proposal of depositing money into their bank accounts. In return for allowing use of that account, the firm was supposed to receive a substantial share of the funds.
To take part in the deal, the business was required to supply blank copies of its letterhead, a stamped and signed invoice and bank account details. However, just before they received their share of the funds, business owners were asked for a ‘tax’ or cash to cover last minute expenses or bribes. The businesses lost $250,000 to more than $1 million and never received their promised share of the other money.
A lot of information you may consider personal is actually public knowledge. Details such as address, family relationships, date of birth, and business details can be discovered through the electoral roll, telephone listings and websites.
Scammers thrive on uncertainty and target poorly organised businesses.
To avoid scams:
You do not need to lose money to be able to report a scam.
If the scam originates from NSW or you know the name of the business or trader and they are located in NSW, you can report the scam to NSW Fair Trading online through Lodge a complaint, call 13 32 20 or in person at one of our Fair Trading Centres.
If the scam originates from outside NSW or overseas you can report it via SCAMwatch. SCAMwatch is a website run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.
For more information, visit www.scamwatch.com.au or call 1300 795 995.
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