Scams cost Australians millions of dollars per year. Aside from consumers, scammers also target businesses like restaurants and cafes. They take advantage of busy times to deceive owners and employees. If you don’t have security measures in your business, you might unknowingly pay money to scammers who pretend to be vendors, sellers — even government agents or high-ranking executives. Protect your food business by learning how to spot the latest scams in Australia.
#1 Tax Refund Scam
Tax time is hectic — the perfect time for scammers to trick you into giving them your personal and financial information. Some scammers have been using the replica of a myGov web page to gather names, email addresses, passwords and credit card details from unsuspecting people.
The tax refund scam starts with an email telling you that you’re eligible for a tax refund. To claim it, you must click a link. The link directs to a myGov claim form that is actually fake. If you submit the form with your personal and banking information, you won’t get a tax refund. Instead, the scammers will steal your identity and commit credit card fraud.
How To Spot A Tax Return Scam
- The false email from myGov has the subject line: Important information regarding your account.
- It asks you to click a link to a tax refund claim form.
- The cloned myGov form tells you to provide private information such as your email account password, phone number and credit card or debit card details.
#2 CEO Email Fraud
Business owners and CEOs beware — scammers could be impersonating you. CEO fraud involves scammers pretending to be high-ranking employees. They send emails to subordinates and persuade them to wire money to overseas bank accounts.
Scammers time their attacks. They send their instructions before businesses are about to close. They create a sense of urgency by instructing email recipients to transfer money immediately. If left undetected, your restaurant or cafe could lose millions of dollars.
How To Spot A CEO Email Fraud Attack
- An employee with access to financial accounts receives an email that seems to come from the company CEO, owner or high-ranking executive.
- The email arrives just before closing time at the end of the week.
- The signature indicates that the message was sent from the CEO’s phone, which explains why it lacks company credentials.
- The email address looks very similar to the CEO’s except for one typographical error that is easily overlooked.
- The sender instructs the employee to deposit a huge amount of money via wire transfer to an overseas bank account.
- The transferred money is quickly moved to offshore accounts and can no longer be recovered.
#3 Bogus Government Grant
Small business owners have lost up to $700 million from falling prey to the government grant scam. A company called the Australian Business Funding Centre Pty Ltd or Australia Business Financing Centre (ABFC) charges hundreds of dollars to give small businesses access to an online database of government grants and loans. If you pay the fee, you won’t see grants in the database or you’ll discover that you’re not eligible to apply. Instead of obtaining funds for your restaurant or cafe, you’ll lose money.
How To Spot A Government Grant Scam
- The website: www.australiangovernment.grants.org
- Be cautious of any website that charges a fee to connect you to a government grant database.
- Check if the ‘success stories’ featured on the website are true by contacting the businesses.
#4 Investment Scam
This year, Australians have lost more than $26 million to investment scams. Investment scammers pretend to be stock brokers or portfolio managers. They try to get money from you or your food business by promising impressively high and quick returns.
Investment scammers are most likely to contact you by phone or email. They might invite you to an investment seminar where you will be urged to do high risk investing. The following seminars have expensive attendance fees, and the investment reports and offers are overpriced or overvalued.
How To Spot An Investment Scam
- A stranger calls you to offer unsolicited investment advice.
- Someone sends you an unsolicited email about a company’s share price.
- They tell to you invest immediately or else you’ll miss the opportunity.
- The investment is described as ‘risk-free’ or have ‘guaranteed high returns’.
- The person claiming to be a stock broker or portfolio manager is operating overseas.
- They do not have an Australian Financial Services licence.
#5 Fake Invoice Scam
Be careful if you receive invoices from companies you never had dealings with before. A lot of scammers try to get personal and credit card information through fake invoices. Some of these emails are even disguised to trick you into thinking that the invoices come from institutions and government agencies. Examples of these are ANZ Bank, Medicare and ASIC invoice scams. Using accounting software such as Xero, MYOB and Quickbooks will speed up your transactions and keep them secure.
How To Spot A Fake Invoice
- You receive an unsolicited email from a business you’re unfamiliar with.
- You receive an email that seems to come from an institution or government agency.
- The sender’s names on the signature, FROM field and email address do not match.
- The email address does not use the official domain name of the institution or government agency.
- The email instructs you to click a link or button.
- Clicking it directs you to an online payment form that requires your credit card details and personal information.
- The email instructs you to open an attachment (Excel, PDF, etc.)
- Opening it initiates the installation of malware on your computer.
#6 False LinkedIn Invitation
Protect your LinkedIn login credentials by closely examining networking invitations sent to you via email. Fake notifications from LinkedIn are being used to obtain the usernames and passwords of various professionals.
How To Spot A Bogus LinkedIn Invitation
- You receive what seems like a LinkedIn email notification telling you that someone you don’t know wants to join your network.
- The email address of the sender does not include their real name or business domain.
- Clicking a link directs you to a web page designed to look like LinkedIn’s login page.
- If you look at the URL, it’s not https://www.linkedin.com
#7 Telstra Phone Scam
Scammers pretending to be Telstra representatives have been taking financial information from Australians. They call their targets and tell them that their broadband connection will be cut off because their computer has been hacked or infected. The ‘representative’ can solve the problem, but you must pay them first and download a particular software.
If you give your credit card details, the scammer will take more than the stated payment for services. If you download and install the software, they will gain remote access to your computer.
How To Spot A Telstra Phone Scam
- Someone claiming to be a Telstra representative (technician, tech support) informs you by phone that your connection will be cut off on the same day or in a few months.
- The scammer tries to make you hurry and feel anxious by saying that your computer has been infected and must be fixed immediately.
- You are told to give your credit card details for payment of services.
- You are told to download software so they can access your computer.
- If you refuse to do what you are told, you will be threatened with a lawsuit or police arrest.
- If you verify the person’s name and employee number by calling Telstra’s official hotline, you’ll find out that these are fake.
What To Do When You Are Targeted By Scammers
- Stay calm — scammers want you to be anxious, hasty and easy to manipulate.
- Verify the identity of callers and email senders by contacting the official phone numbers of businesses, institutions or government agencies.
- Check if the company’s ABN number is real.
- Search for the company on ASIC’s Australian Financial Services licensee register.
- Do not provide your personal and financial information.
- Do not click links or open attachments from suspicious emails.
- Never allow remote access to your computer.
- Be wary of requests for international wire transfers and unusual payment methods, such as gift cards.
- Report scams to SCAMwatch: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam.
- Change your login credentials if scammers have obtained it.
- Use two-step verification on your accounts when available.
- Notify your credit card company if scammers have acquired your credit card details.
- Set up well-defined security measures in you business.
- Install anti-malware software on your computers and keep it updated.
Train your employees to spot scams. It’s easy with a 1-page flyer packed with essential information! Download 3 Ways To Check You’re Not Paying A Scammer .
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