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Home > Staying Safe > Scams

Protect Your Business Against Scams

It is estimated that one in every three scams in the United States is aimed at a small business owner. Among the variety of scams that they use are directory scams, vendor scams, and of course the Nigerian scam.

Small businesses are a principal target for scam artists of all types.

The Directory Scam


A con artist approaches a small business to ask if they would like to be included in a physical or on-line “business directory” which is being put together. The scam artist might call it a directory of “recommended” businesses. The business owner pays a fee to be included in the directory, and then never sees it or the salesperson again.

Preventive Measures:

  • Ask to see the most recent copy of the directory or for the directory's URL
  • Ask to be referred to another business that has been included in past directories

Vendor Scams:


This scam involves a phony office supply company that tries to sell office supplies at grossly inflated prices. These phony companies have generic names like “ACME Office Supplies” or “Office Supply Warehouse.” Often times they'll contact you by e-mail, or even show up uninvited at your business. Even worse they may just send your company an invoice for items that you never ordered, and never received.

Preventive Measures:

  • Make sure that all of your employees know which vendor supplies your office equipment
  • Be aware of the prices you usually pay for supplies
  • Follow up on any and all invoices that appear to be suspicious

The Nigerian Scam:


A con artist will pose as an official representative of Nigeria or some other foreign country who is looking to launder millions of dollars into the United States. If a business owner passes along his bank account and routing numbers, he or she will be offered a percentage of the cash smuggled into the country. Funds will likely exit your bank account rather than enter it.

Preventive Measures:

  • Don't give your bank account information to anyone but a reputable business partner
  • Most importantly, use common sense when managing your business

Find out about more fraudulent Internet practices like e-mail scams and auction fraud.

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