Invoice scams can be hard to spot

Throughout March, local media in Williams Lake has teamed up with the RCMP to focus on the top ten scams identified by the BBB.

  • Mar. 28, 2013 3:00 p.m.

Throughout March, local media in Williams Lake has teamed up with the RCMP to focus on the top ten scams identified by the Better Business Bureau.

March is billed as Fraud Awareness Month and each week the Tribune has highlighted two or three from the top 10 scams.

The first week explained advertising trolls, online romance scams, and internet investment fraud. In week two, it was affinity fraud, curbers, which are used-car “traffickers,” and rogue door-to-door contractors.

Last week computer virus fixing schemes and twisted text prices were explored.

In this the final week, pretender invoices and fake complaint emails are discussed.

The BBB says a “pretender scheme” happens when a scammer sends an invoice or bill requesting payment for goods or services.

These invoices may state the recipient is past the due date for payment and threaten that non-payment will affect a credit rating. The invoices are fake and are for goods and services a person has not received or requested.

“For example, you might be sent an invoice for a domain name that is very similar to your current domain name or for a small amount of stationery,” the BBB warns. “The scammer hopes that you don’t notice the difference and just pay the invoice.”

It is important that employees paying invoices check that a purchase order is in place before paying any invoice.

Tribune accountant Phylis LaFlamme says for years she’s seen one particular fake invoice come through.

“We will get one from Yellow Page and it’s usually faxed. Nobody’s contacted you to advertise. The trick is the word page, the real company is Yellow Pages,” LaFlamme explains.

All bogus invoice schemes should be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

The fake complaint e-mails are actually a BBB phishing scam.

“Yep, it’s us,” the BBB says. “Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people have received e-mails that very much look like an official notice from the BBB.”

The e-mail subject line will read “Complaint Against Your Business,” and instruct the recipient to either click on a link or open an attachment to get the details.

“If the recipient does either, a malicious virus is launched on their computer. A virus that can steal banking information, passwords and other critical pieces of information needed for cyber-theft.”

Through working with security consultants and federal law enforcement to track down the source of these e-mails, BBB has shut down dozens of hijacked websites.

Anyone who has opened an attachment or clicked a link should run a complete system scan using reputable anti-virus software. And, says the BBB, if the computer is networked with others, all machines in the network need to be scanned.

One of the tools BBB will be using to provide helpful tips is a Twitter hash tag #justincase and encourages Twitter users to add their own tips using the same hashtag.

For more information and resources go to www.mbc.bbb.org/top-ten-scams.

 

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