False billing scams – don’t get bitten

Businesses and their financial controllers should remain alert to false billing and other scams that target their business. False billing scams reported to the ACCC in 2009 increased by nearly 60% over those reported in 2008.

Scammers target businesses in an attempt to trick them into paying for services they haven’t ordered. The most common ones are for:

  • an advertisement in a magazine or journal
  • a listing in a business register/directory
  • a domain name renewal.

A common example is where a business is sent a subscription form disguised as an outstanding invoice. This is an attempt to trick the recipient into signing up for unwanted advertising or listing services. Or you may be asked to confirm the details of an advertisement or listing, giving the impression that you had previously arranged it. Often the advertisement looks genuine – because it is likely to have been lifted from another genuine publication – the Yellow Pages for example.

Other scams come in the form of a domain name renewal but are in fact a cleverly disguised request to transfer the domain name to a new domain name registrar, or an application for a similar domain name – often at an inflated price.

All have one thing in common – the scammers hope you are too busy to check carefully and just pay without thinking.

Scammers make contact through every means possible – phone, fax, mail and email. It can pay to stay alert and not be bitten by a scammer.

The ACCC has produced an information sheet with descriptions of other scams and cons (see here).

Piquet Kruzas is a lawyer and experienced management trainer.

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