Know Your Predator: Small Business & College Scams
Students and small business owners are some of the busiest and most strapped-for-cash folks out there. Between their huge workloads and steep learning curves, they have to juggle a ton of different tasks and responsibilities every day. Did I mention they’re strapped for cash? This all makes students and small business owners prime targets for financial scams.
Protect yourself. Take time to think through decisions about offers that sound too good to be true and investigate exactly who you are dealing with. This is a learning curve you DON’T want to climb the hard way.
Know Your Predator: Be Aware of the Scams that Target YOU
Small Business Owners: The Devil’s in the Details
You’re busy, you’re multitasking beyond all reason, and you’re dealing with steep learning curves as your business grows and evolves. Scammers are WELL AWARE of this and will try to take advantage of you.
When your business begins to accept credit cards, there are several scams to look out for. The first is to be on the lookout for FAKE PROCESSING SERVICES. When you’re looking for a credit card processing service, check in with your bank before you agree to anything with anyone. Small businesses get bombarded with calls from representatives from processing service companies, and some of these companies are fraudulent. Once they sign you up they will either charge very high fees or just take your money.
If you have a card-swiping device through your Point of Sale (POS) system, you may receive bogus calls that purport to be from your card processing company or your POS system supplier saying they need to install updates or modifications to your equipment. If this happens, check in with your company directly to make sure this call is valid because these upgrades or modifications may actually be hijacking your hardware to capture card numbers.
Another financial scam that targets small business owners also preys on busy schedules. Scammers will call the business posing as the utilities company or the liquor board demanding payment NOW on a past-due bill. These are designed to make you respond to urgency and pay a bill that simply does not exist, giving the scammer your credit card or checking account number in the process. It is important that you NEVER respond to these calls. You can protect yourself simply by understanding that REAL past-due payment requests come by MAIL and not by phone.
All of these scams that target small business owners bank on the chance that you will not have the time to investigate and verify who you are dealing with. When it comes to dealing with your money and the money of others, take the time and steps necessary to know ALL the details.
College students: Fake Checks and Debit Card Scams
You’re working hard, you’ve got little time for a job on the side, and you need money. This makes you vulnerable to scammers offering you fast and easy cash, be it through an ambiguous part-time job that seems to good to be true, or by luring you into selling your bank and debit card information. Here are some common financial scams that target college students to look out for. This first scam is a variation of a well-known scam particularly tailored to target college students. What ultimately happens is the student gets a check in the mail and must wire most of it to a third party. The ruse is that the student is hired for an ambiguous telecommute administrative assistant job that pays $300 per week. Their first task is to cash a check for $2,000 that they will receive in the mail and wire all but their $300 to a third party recipient. Of course, the check will bounce, the student will be left with the debt, and the scammers will make out with $1,700.
A related version of this scam happens when students are asked, usually via social media, to let someone use their bank account to process a check. The student is told they get to keep half of the money. Sometimes scammers even fabricate an excuse to get the student to give them their debit card PIN number. The scammer deposits a counterfeit check in the student’s account and then collects most of it. When the bank discovers the check is counterfeit, the student is left with the consequences.
Another financial scam takes place at nightclubs and other places students frequent to party. In this con, students are lured into selling their debit card numbers and PINs. In this case, the scammer will deposit a fake check into their account and withdraw the amount in its entirety. Then, the student can call in and report his card stolen so he will not have to suffer the consequences. This is of course illegal and if the conspiracy gets uncovered the student could face serious charges.
While this all sounds incredibly sketchy right off the bat, the prospect of making some quick money when you’re busy, paying high tuition fees, on a tight budget, and out on your own for the first time, it’s easy to fall prey to scammers making offers that sound too good to be true.