Posted September 2, 2019
We have all received the emails, the letters, the calls and the texts. The ATO is reassessing your business, but it’s come from an email address with way too many numbers in it. The letter directs you to head to a website that doesn’t end with .gov.au. The phone call from the ATO appears on your phone as being sourced from Croatia. Probably not legitimate, right?
Scams targeting salon and small business owners come in a huge variety of forms, including all the ones mentioned above and more, like putting false cards through credit card machines, invoices for work you never requested and all sorts in between. We at HABA have heard from our members that there seems to be a rise in scams at the moment, and so we thought it would be useful for salon owners to have a list of the top scams going around. This will help you keep an eye out for things that don’t seem quite right and protect your business from people trying to take your hard-earned money.
False billing scams request you or your business to pay fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals or office supplies that you did not order. For salon owners this often comes in the form of Yellow Pages listings or SEO Advertising that you never requested. There is a huge rise in this type of scam via email at the moment in particular, and we wrote about this back in 2017 too.
Overpayment scams work by getting you to ‘refund’ a scammer who has sent you too much money for an item you are selling. They could be posing as a salon supplies store or even as a client, and again this will normally come via email.
These are some of the most pernicious scams facing salon owners at the moment because we are all so afraid of being reassessed or getting in strife with the ATO, even if we have done nothing wrong. These scammers often tell you that you have underpaid your tax, or that the ATO has reassessed your business and you owe them money. These demands could come in the form of either a letter, email or phone call, so be very careful with anything that appears to be from the ATO. If you’re unsure about it, speak to your accountant or tax agent immediately.
MALWARE & RANSOMWARE
Malware tricks you into installing software that allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing, while ransomware demands payment to ‘unlock’ your computer or files. These might appear to come from your website hosting provider or wherever you bought your domain name from, so check the emails carefully
Phishing scams target businesses or organisations in an attempt to get confidential information out of you, like business records or electricity bills, for fraudulent purposes. Once scammers have this data, they can then pose as you to request loans, or threaten you with this information before making a demand for cash. These can come in the form of both emails and phone calls.
ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS
Online shopping scams involve scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site. It could be as simple as discounted or inauthentic salon products or clicking a link on a website thinking you’re buying one thing, when in fact you are charged for something else completely. To keep an eye on these scams, you have to watch your bank account and make sure any transactions you make online are recognisable to you. If you see anything you don’t remember buying or signing up for, call your bank immediately.
Investment scams involve getting you or your business to part with money on the promise of a questionable financial opportunity, like commercial property or investing in new technology that might not be in Australia yet. These opportunities do occur, so it’s important to consider any investment request carefully and check the legitimacy of the business and opportunity before investing or handing over any money or details.
We know that in Australia there is a real rise in scams targeting small business owners. The only way to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of is to question everything, always check the details and never hand over any money or information until you are SURE that what you’re being asked for is legitimate. When in doubt, ask the question and seek further advice – it’s your business at stake after all and you need to do your best to protect it.
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