The Better Business Bureau has learned that, once again, some dishonest characters are pretending to be the BBB in order to steal information and money from unsuspecting businesses and consumers.
BBB has heard of two new impostor approaches this time: In one, El Paso businesses have received emails claiming their business has received a new BBB complaint and asking users to click through to “Review and sign” a document. The email includes BBB logos and a fake complaint number.
In the other recent impostor example, phone calls are used. A consumer in western Pennsylvania got a phone call from someone who “identified me by my home phone number and then proceeded to say my credit was good and I made payments on time, and he said that I made even higher payments than usual and then he proceeded to say I didn’t have to pay my credit cards anymore because he was from the [Better Business Bureau].” The BBB office in Jacksonville reports receiving two calls regarding a scammer claiming to be the BBB, offering credit cards and loans.
In the past, BBBs have received reports from businesses contacted by scam artists posing as BBB Accredited Business PayPal confirming the purchase of a crypto product. The invoice includes the BBB Accredited Business logo and a fake Gmail address.
These are just a few of many impostor schemes in which the BBB brand has been used, and BBB is asking consumers and businesses to report these to BBB Scam Tracker https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker and contact your local BBB https://www.bbb.org/bbb-directory/to verify any suspicious claims.
Check out BBB’s Spot a Scam hub to learn how to identify scammers quickly, and read more about common impostor scams below. https://www.bbb.org/all/spot-a-scam
Fake invoice scams:
Con artists send out fake invoices in hopes of tricking businesses into paying for services or products they never requested or received. Large corporations and small businesses alike lose billions each year to this scam. BBB Scam Tracker has received reports from business owners who got fake invoices for office supplies, domain hosting services, and web services – to mention a few common versions.
Watch out for phony invoices both in the mail and by email. Fake invoices are a way of phishing for business information and tricking business owners out of money.
How to avoid fake invoice scams
- Understand how your real invoices are delivered. Scammers try to imitate companies you actually do business with. Understand how your billing processes work. Find out how and when invoices will be delivered, how payments are made, and what happens when payments are overdue. Keep updated records of all vendors.
- Don’t be intimidated. Scammers love using intimidation tactics to make you question whether or not an invoice was paid. Sometimes, the fraudster will impersonate government agencies to add weight to the threats. Even if an invoice claims your payment is overdue and legal action will be taken if you don’t pay immediately, take time to verify the claims before you pay.
- Establish a procedure for inspecting incoming invoices. Select a small group of staff to handle purchases, bill pay, and receive shipments. Then, create a process where employees check that products and services were ordered and delivered before paying an invoice.
- Train your staff. Give your staff training on invoice inspection procedures and inform them of fake invoice scams. Keep in mind that scammers are experts at imitating official agencies, so emphasize the need to double-check all incoming invoices.
- Encourage open communication. Check to ensure employees feel comfortable reporting a problem or if they have any concerns about specific invoices.
Tech support scams:
The impostor claims they are investigating fraudulent charges in order to refund cash previous tech support scammers had taken from the business. The catch — the impostor needs access to the victim’s computer to fill out and send a form. They claim that once the form is returned, the company will refund the money, usually $500. The impostor takes the victim to a realistic-looking site using the BBB logo and then tries to access the victim’s bank account or hold the victim’s computer hostage for more money.
Tech Support Scams have been around for a while and take on many forms. Here are some of the ways scammers target potential victims:
- Warning screens. If a warning screen pops up on your computer with a number to call for help, don’t call it.
- Cold calls. A caller will claim to be from a known tech company and say that servers have detected a security problem on the consumer’s computer. Never give a cold caller any financial information or give them access to your computer.
- Sponsored links. Be wary of the sponsored ads at the top of the results of an internet search. Many will go directly to fake sites set up to scam consumers.
- Emails. Scammers also use email to reach potential victims. Don’t click on any links or download any attachments in emails from sources you don’t personally know or can’t confirm. Learn more about phishing attempts here. https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/16758-bbb-tip-phishing-scams
Don’t fall for a BBB impostor!
BBB does sometimes reach out to consumers and businesses; however, BBB will never ask for passwords or information to access your personal device. If you are unsure if it’s really the BBB calling, tell the caller you will call them back and end the call. Then check the phone number on BBB.org and call directly.
If you have been a victim of a tech support scam, there is a possibility you may be a target. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
- Callers claiming to ask if you were happy with your previous tech support service. If you say no, the scammer will offer you a refund.
- Callers claiming the scam tech company that was paid previously is going out of business, and they are calling to offer you a refund.
Once they have gained your trust, the con artists will claim they need a credit card or banking information to process the refund.
For more tips from BBB on tech support scams, visit BBB.org/techsupportscam.
If you receive a call from someone requesting payment information or permission to access your computer, hang up and report it to BBB Scam Tracker.
Suspect the BBB logo is being used fraudulently? Please report it to us! Contact your local BBB.
Multiple BBB offices contributed to this report.