All over the world, new scams, viruses, worms, and hacker ploys are used to attack small businesses nearly every day. The worst of these attacks are the kind that use a business’ own interests against it, after gaining the trust and confidence of the business owner.
Not only can these types of business scams affect a business’s bottom line, but they can also damage an entrepreneur’s confidence and willingness to take calculated risks.
One business scam making the rounds now is “slamming.” It is a new version of the 90’s scam to trick a person or business into changing their phone carrier. Today’s iteration cons the business owner into changing their merchant service provider, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.
According to one source, “The slammers know what they are doing; they understand the boundaries of human trust and rely on your sincerity and good will.”
Slamming scams are especially scary because they sound and operate as if performed by professionals. They are not your average business scam with obvious giveaways, but they can be spotted if business owners and decision makers are aware of what to look for.
Below are a few different characteristics and ploys used by slammers, and some tips to avoid becoming a victim. With this knowledge, business owners can resist payment processing and account access attempts with confidence.
- Read every contract. It is vital to thoroughly read every contract put in front of you. Refrain from signing any legal document before reading through the contract, researching, and answering any questions you may have beforehand. If a vendor seems to be in a hurry, and they are pushy or want you to act fast, move away from the vendor.
- Misinformation about a contract. Some business scams rely on your desire to get tasks or jobs done quickly. They may send you documents that they claim are forms, but these scammers are binding contracts. Be suspicious and read everything.
- Always research carefully. One of the most important things when it comes to B2B is research, you must make sure that you are doing business with reliable people. If you cannot seem to find anything about the provider that is attempting to sell to you, move away from the deal or dig deeper to find more information on the company that wants to provide services.
- Anytime cancellation. Another great ploy for slammers is to reassure the business owner that the contract can be canceled at anytime or offers a trial run of the services. In reality, the contract being signed is binding and could last for several years. And this can’t be stressed enough, read everything before signing anything.
- Verify the caller’s identity. If a “sales rep” calls and claims that they are with Visa or MasterCard, automatically be suspicious. Neither Visa nor MasterCard sell merchant services directly. Another common scam is to claim the terminal or POS software requires a system update that can be completed over the phone with a download. Once complete, the business’ merchant service provider has been changed and the deposits for the business could end up in the scammers bank account. You can never ask too many questions, always be positive that you know who it is you are working with.
The most important way a business owner or manager can protect the company is by being thorough and very suspicious, especially about unsolicited calls. Unfortunately, the age-old adage is still far too true, especially as it relates to business: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Professionals can protect their business by asking questions, verifying the caller’s identity, back-searching the caller’s number, and never agreeing to sign a contract or hand out account information over the phone without a thorough check into the caller’s background and identity. Even if it all checks out, it never hurts to be careful, especially whenever payment processing is involved.