Own a small business? Scammers are targeting you in 2024.


How to find out if an agency is real or not

Scammers have a hard time trying to mess with a Fortune 500 company, but they’ve decided that they can go after the lower-hanging fruit – small businesses.

Along the lines of scammers posing as government workers, these new rogues don’t use the telephone, but instead run their scams by mail. With the help of top tier graphics programs, they’re able to fabricate some pretty good looking fake forms and letters from made-up agencies to small business owners and demanding payment ASAP. 

The fake government letters have agency names that include words like “United States, business regulation, and trademark symbol” to make them seem legitimate. The letters lie to these business owners, saying it’s time to register or renew a business license or trademark, sending you to a website that asks for your license, Social Security, EIN, and credit card numbers. Usually, the letters warn about fines if you don’t respond fast.

What’s funny/sad about this is that there are “federal agency name” generators on the web that, within seconds, can come up with names like Domestic Investigation Service, Homeland Fraud Service, and the National Corruption Department.

Before you move an inch

If you get a letter that appears to be from the government and demands money or information, stop. Before you move an inch, find out if the agency is real before you respond.

“Go to USA.gov to verify the names and contact information of federal, state, and local, government agencies,” Bridget Small, consumer education specialist, at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC, a real agency), said. “Don’t use any websites or phone numbers listed in the letter.”

“Know that the government will never ask you to wire money with services like Western Union or MoneyGram, or pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency, or a payment app. Only scammers will, because it’s hard to track that money and hard to get it back.”

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