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5 Scams Targeting Small Businesses

What to watch for and how to protect your investment

When you’re a small business owner, you don’t have time to mess with scammers and criminals. But they are out there, whether you like it or not. To keep your business safe, we’ve compiled 5 of today's biggest business scams and ways you can protect your bottom line.

Ransomware: In this scam, cybercriminals infect computer systems with malware that they control. They then lock business owners out of computer systems and demand a ransom payment to unlock them.

You can defend your business. Back up your business data daily, if not more often, using both a cloud- and physical backup system. Also, install and update computer software regularly and train employees on safe browsing, email, and online safety practices.

Vendor Fraud: This scam can be difficult to spot if you’re processing a lot of inventory on a monthly basis. Criminals will offer fake products or services and/or overcharge for legitimate ones.

Your watchful eyes can catch this scam. Thoroughly vet potential vendors before signing any agreements or paying a single invoice. Also, reach out for references and check on reviews. And always be cautious of unsolicited offers featuring low, low prices.

Fake Tech Support Scams: It’s expensive to have a dedicated IT person or team. That’s why many small business owners do this job on their own, which makes it easier for criminals to claim to be from tech support companies, pressuring businesses into unnecessary services or malware removal.

To skip this scam, never give unsolicited callers remote access to your computer. If you really need tech support, seek it out yourself. Do your research and find one with great ratings and a reputation for honesty and awesomeness.

Social Engineering Scams: This scam is aimed at business employees. Criminals use a sense of urgency and fear to trick employees into sharing confidential business-related or financial information.

Protect your business. Implement data security protocols that restrict employee access and train your people to be cautious of unsolicited calls and emails.

Business Email Compromise Scams: In this scam, criminals impersonate legitimate company contacts (vendors, officers, etc.) by email. They then trick employees into authorizing payments or wire transfers.

To avoid this terrible scam, enact multi-factor authentication for all financial accounts, verify payment requests with the sender using your own phone contact information, and tell employees to be cautious of all payment requests.

To protect your business from scams, try these tactics courtesy of the FBI and FTC: 
•    Train your employees to be cautious. 
•    Verify all invoices and payments
•    Don’t trust caller ID
•    Don’t trust email messages
•    Back up your business data often

Central Willamette is on Your Side

If your business falls victim to a scam or your data is being held for ransom, report it to the FTC at, and alert the Oregon Attorney General. Also, call your business team at Central Willamette Credit Union. We may be able to put a freeze on your business accounts until things are resolved.