General BusinessNews & Opinion

Protecting your business from scams

I’m sure you’ve received an email from a Nigerian government official (or member of the royal family) asking for your help to move a large sum of money, and promising you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.

Hopefully, you realised it was a scam and hit ‘delete’ *.

Less obvious is the letter or email from third-party “service providers” offering to renew your business name registration, issue your US ESTA visa or facilitate other services that you can access directly.

The letter includes details of your business name, such as your ABN, and prompts you to renew your business name through the provider’s website instead of directly to the ASIC website. If you do renew through their site, they charge additional fees to “facilitate” the registration.

So how did they get your business’ details?

Anyone can obtain information about a business using ASIC Connect Search, including business name, ABN, date registered, status, registration date and renewal date, address for service of documents, and business name holder(s).

If you receive a letter, email or telephone call purporting to be from any Government authority (ASIC, ATO, etc) and you’re unsure whether it’s legitimate, telephone the authority directly using the telephone number on their website.

Better still, call us. Whilst there is no stopping Government agencies contacting you directly, if we are appointed your ASIC and/or tax agent, protocol and courtesy dictates that they should direct their enquiries through us.

You can also hover (not click on) over any links in the email to check whether the address goes directly to the authority or to another site.

There are a lot of relatively sophisticated scams at present, and they’re making a lot of money from consumers and business owners.

In the past week alone, I’ve received scam emails for overdue invoices from Telstra, energy providers, MYOB and Xero; as well as automated voicemail messages purporting to be from the police and ATO.

You do need to be vigilant and also ensure your staff are alert to potential scams and third-party service provider emails, as they often target accounting or frontline staff as well as business owners.

If you receive a letter from a third-party provider offering to renew your business name or similar, shred it and schedule a reminder in your calendar to keep an eye out for the genuine ASIC renewal notice.

You’ve worked hard for your money and I’d hate to see you losing it so easily, so keep an eye out for potential scams and third-party providers.

ASIC and the ACCC have more information on protecting yourself from scams, and what to do if you think you’ve been scammed.

If you’d like more help on protecting your business, talk to us today on 1300 656 141.

* If you’re curious about what might happen if you replied to the Nigerian email, you’ll enjoy this hilarious TED Talk


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Neil Parker
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