Summertime temporary workers may be fooled by common business scams: BBB

Click to play video: 'Better Business Bureau urges managers to talk to staff about scams'
Better Business Bureau urges managers to talk to staff about scams
WATCH: Summer vacation means temporary staff are on the job, and as Tony Tighe reports, that’s presenting scammers with a unique opportunity – Jul 25, 2017

Businesses are bombarded every day with calls and emails from clients, suppliers and contractors — but officials are warning some of them may not be legitimate.

The Calgary Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reminding office managers to educate staff about common office scams, particularly while regular staff are on vacation during the summer.

READ MORE: ‘Can you hear me?’: Don’t say ‘Yes’ in new telephone scam

It’s something Alberta Home Services operations manager Sam Elias is very aware of. His company has a system to verify senders, especially when it comes to unexpected invoices.

“We want to be sure that whoever calls in, we not just treat them with equal opportunity but we also determine whether this is a legitimate call or inquiry to our services,” Elias said. “There is a lot of phishing going on.”

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The BBB says July and August are prime times for office scams. The most common are phoney invoices for office supplies, online directories or website hosting.

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Leah Brownridge with the BBB says scammers gather company names and information with a phone call and then follow with the fake invoice.

“Scammers are counting on these fake invoices and bills to be processed automatically with no question,” Brownridge said. “Slip through the cracks and not become any point of concern for anybody.”

The BBB recommends companies take the following steps to protect themselves:

  1. Training anyone responsible for processing invoices or answering phone calls to be aware of scams
  2. Check that goods or services were ordered and delivered before paying invoices
  3. Designate a small group of employees to approve purchases, receive shipments and pay bills

Sometimes scams involve someone impersonating someone inside a company, and even the BBB isn’t safe from potentially falling victim.

READ MORE: Top 10 scams of 2016 reveal Canadians lost more than $90M last year

Kyle Sims, the vice president of operations at the BBB, said he recently got an email from what he initially thought was his CEO asking him to wire money to a client to close a big deal.

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He recognized it was fake and flagged it, but said he can see how others might not.

“It was something that played on the fact that it needed to be rushed, so they created a sense of urgency with it that often would cause people to overlook it,” Sims said. “So I could definitely see how people could fall victim to it.”

Education is the key, the BBB said, especially in the summer when fill-in staff may not be familiar with regular clients or the office routine.

READ MORE: Better Business Bureau warns car sellers about scam

The BBB says in the last two years, at least 70 Calgary-area businesses have reported losing money in phoney invoice scams. So far in 2017, 16 businesses have been victims.

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