According to the San Diego City Treasurer’s office, about 94% of businesses in San Diego and Imperial Counties are classified as small businesses with 12 or fewer employees. As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Juggling the day-to-day tasks of running a small business (managing your inventory, keeping your employees and customers happy, running your company’s website, etc.) can be overwhelming and at times, frustrating. At a time when it’s becoming harder and harder to operate as a small business, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself, your assets and your employees.
Scammers are taking advantage of demanding and hectic workloads by sending fraudulent invoices posing as legitimate companies. These bogus bills look just like any other; a phony company name, address, web address and logo can all be deceiving to those familiar with the look of an invoice.
The most common report of this scam comes in the form of “maintenance” billing, whether in regards to the phone lines, internet service, electricity outlets and more. With amounts ranging from hundreds, to thousands of dollars, it’s important to be vigilant before authorizing any form of payment.
It’s easy to be busy and let things slip through the cracks. So as you are shifting through the pile of bills stacked up on your desk, what should be looking for before breaking out your checkbook?
--Look out when paying your everyday bills, such as electricity, water and plumbing; since these are checks we write every month, sometimes we do so in haste - without really looking at the cost and the details of the invoice.
--If you are using an independent contractor for any work, ask for detail and do the math. A more detailed description of the work done and hours taken to do so will clear up any questions or suspicions.
--Follow up with your normal provider. If you receive a “maintenance” bill from a company you don’t recognize, get in contact with your provider and verify the legitimacy of the bill.