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How Scammers Are Targeting Home Businesses

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The Better Business Bureau issued a warning April 25 about a fake-check scam targeting direct sales professionals, and the BBB advised such sales people to avoid accepting checks from customers they don’t know.

Fraudsters present themselves as potential customers, contacting consultants via email or text message with an order request. The so-called customer sends the payment, only to frantically contact the consultant saying he or she overpaid and the consultant should wire the difference or send cash back to the customer (or whomever the customer names as the recipient of the extra money).

The check the customer sent in the first place is fake, so any money the seller sends out will be a loss.

Make Money, Don’t Lose It

It can be easy to fall into a fraudster’s trap when you’re trying to sell something, but you should balance your desire to make money with the need to protect your assets. Use caution when dealing with a new, unknown customer, the BBB advised in its post about the scam.

Even if you don’t make your living in direct sales, take note: Scammers look at Craigslist sellers as potential targets, too. The BBB offered sellers the following tips for avoiding costly trickery.

Avoid checks. Checks are a favorite among scammers. They can take a few days to clear, allowing people to trick you into thinking they’ve paid you when they haven’t. If you can take cash or credit card payments for whatever you’re selling, it may be the way to go when dealing with a buyer you don’t know.

Don’t take more than you’re owed. The key to this scam is the overpayment, so it’s important to confirm you’ve received the right amount from your customer. If someone gives you too much, correct the error before you let the transaction hit your bank account.

Don’t wire money to strangers. This tip has been around awhile, and it’s a good one. Craigslist has a section of its site dedicated to informing consumers about scams, and the second point on its list of things to avoid is to never wire money to a Craigslist poster. Don’t do it.

Confirm the deposit. It’s easy to deposit a check, mark it in your records and forget about it, but you need to follow up. As a general practice, you should check your online bank statements on a daily basis to watch out for unauthorized transactions, and if you’re relying on a deposit to come through, you should confirm it cleared before spending those funds. If you run into a situation when a customer has asked for a correction to their payment or a refund, wait until the first transaction went through before shelling out your own cash.

Cashless transactions are the norm now, but don’t lose touch with your money. Keep close tabs on your bank accounts, especially when you’re dealing with transactions from unfamiliar third parties, and if you see something that looks off, address it immediately.

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