COVID-19 Small Business Scams You Need to Know About
By Rae Steinbach, Last updated: 2021-10-21 (originally published on 2020-06-15)
We unfortunately live in a world where opportunists will take advantage of difficult situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to scam hard-working, small business owners out of their money. Odds are pretty good that your business is already struggling right now. You don’t need the added burden of losing money because you fell for one of these COVID-19 business scams.
The following are some you should be particularly aware of. Just keep in mind that a single blog entry could never cover all business scams (partially because scammers launch new ones virtually every day). So even if a potential scam isn’t on this list, you should still exercise caution if you have any inklings that someone is trying to rip you off.
It’s worth noting that legitimate small business loans for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic do exist. The government wants small businesses to thrive because they contribute to a stronger economy.
However, some scammers have begun reaching out to small business owners pretending to represent government agencies offering them loans. They request financial information or payment, and run off with their targets’ money.
All of us have felt the effects of this pandemic in some ways. Thus, many generous small business owners want to support others by donating to relevant charities.
This is an admirable impulse. That said, if you want to make such a donation, it’s important to thoroughly research a charity to confirm it’s legitimate before doing so. Scammers have been sharing information about “donation sites” that aren’t affiliated with any real charities.
We’re all concerned about our health right now. It’s very important for you to stay up-to-date on the latest information regarding the nature of the COVID-19 virus. Doing so is key not only to your own safety, but also to the safety of your customers and employees.
However, make sure you’re getting your information from a valid source, such as the CDC or WHO. Scammers are reaching out to small business owners claiming their sites offer new information about the virus. When you visit these sites and provide your information, you could give a phisher access to your accounts.
IRS scams have existed for a long time, but there’s reason to believe they’ve become even more common during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to remember that the IRS will never contact you by phone first, and will instead try to reach out via mail if you owe back taxes.
Once more, you also need to remember that these are merely a few common scams worth keeping an eye out for right now. As a small business owner, you should always be cautious to protect yourself from anyone trying to take advantage of you.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.