You are running your own business, getting things done, busy, busy, busy. But make sure you slow down enough when it comes to parting with your hard earned money to examine every offer and bill. Not-so-honest outfits may try to confuse you into thinking they’re from the government and that you need to pay money to complete government forms, pay for legal documents, or use their service. Their mailings may look like an official bill or notice from a government agency – and may even include what looks like a government seal. To convince you it’s legit, the mailer may even include your business identification number. To get you to pay, the mailer claims that you need to hurry up and pay or you could be in legal hot water.
What can you do to steer clear of these schemes? You don’t need a service to help you file documents and complete your reporting and notifying requirements, but you may need help understanding what are your obligations. So, call the entity directly. Check their website for information and help before you ever get outside help. If it really is inscrutable or if you just don’t have time contact a reputable organization to help you.
Check all invoices closely. Be sure that you have clear procedures to approve expenditures, and that major spending can’t be triggered by an unexpected call, email, or invoice. Know who within your organization is responsible for meeting legal filing obligations.
Slow down. There is usually no emergency, so don’t panic. Read carefully, double check, scammers can even tell you to pay for some filing or other you already have. And pay attention to what they are asking you to do. If someone tells you to pay with a wire transfer, reloadable card, gift card, or bitcoin, you can bet it’s a scam. If there is any question about whether you really owe, call the government agency directly to find out. Find their number or website through a search – not the notification you have received.
Spread the word. The best defense is to be sure everyone at your workplace knows about this scam and how it works. Scammers often target several people in an organization to create confusion. Are you part of a business networking group or service organization? Help your fellow businesspeople and fill them in on these schemes. You can also let agengies like the Federal Trade Commission who keeps track of scams and goes after the worst actors.