As the Singapore economy struggles to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession, companies are struggling to stay afloat, aided by timely schemes announced by the authorities.
Yet, in an era of fear and emotions, some individuals and companies have taken advantage of the eagerness of victims to receive support and concocted various types of scams.
While your keep your business afloat, here are some business scams you should be aware of, so that you can stay clear of them and to stay safe – physically and financially.
#1 Payments Linked To Government Handouts
Many businesses are scrambling to get as much government aid as possible to tide over this crisis. Loss in revenue and profits, coupled with existing sunk costs, might prompt many to jump at the slightest prospect of dangling carrots and payouts.
However, a word of caution! Scammers looking to steal private information about your company or your staff might capitalise on this to dupe you into providing details like bank account information, addresses, or even credit card numbers.
They might operate via emails or by phone calls, claiming that they are a member of a government agency and request for your personal sensitive information in order to disburse grants.
The Singapore authorities have clarified that they would never reach out to ask members of the public or businesses for such information.
Hence, if you do come across scammers like these on the phone or on the Internet, simply ignore their messages and lodge a complaint on platforms such as Scam Alert to help prevent others from falling victim to these scams.
#2 Impersonation Of Government Officials During Contact Tracing
Callers could claim to be a government official doing contact tracing and inform you that one of your staff have been infected with COVID-19.
In these instances, scammers might extract details from you, such as your business type, business financial statements for “verification”.
Again, the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) has stressed that it would never ask individuals or companies for their financial details when conducting contact tracing.
A bolder version of this scam is when this “government official” prompts you to transfer money via wire payments, credit cards and gift cards, presumably to help your staff pay a downpayment for their quarantine expenses.
#3 Fraudulent Request To Switch Payment Accounts
Scammers might pose as a finance staff from one of your vendors or suppliers, and inform your staff company by email or by call to change payment account details from one account to another.
In many cases, scammers would already have done prior research (social media posts can be very informative) so that it would be convincing as they attempt to pilfer away your payments.
If you come across any e-mail that ask you to suddenly switch payment accounts, do your due diligence and clarify with the people whom you owe payments to if the message really came from them.
By being prudent and conducting the necessary checks, you will save your business hundreds, if not thousands, of much-needed dollars during this crisis.
#4 Buyer Overpayment Scam
For sellers of products on online marketplaces including but not limited to Lazada, Qoo10, Shopee and Amazon, here is a note of caution for you.
Scammers could act as buyers for your products to trick you into thinking that they overpaid for your products and shipping costs, thus prompting you to refund them the money quickly as service recovery, in fear of a negative review or complaint.
#5 Deliberately Sending Faulty Products (And Hoping You Won’t Pursue)
As a cash-strapped business looking for alternative suppliers in order to cut costs during these trying times, be aware that faulty goods or products are a loophole scammers could use to cheat you of your money.
If you are sourcing for alternative suppliers or vendors to procure business equipment or products, always negotiate a clause in your business agreements to ensure that faulty products can be rejected and returned.
Business contracts can make or break your business – especially in such crisis times when everyone is looking to safeguard their own interests – hopefully not at the expense of yours.
Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure
Although the list of business scams described above is not meant to be exhaustive, these scams are usually the more common ones to entrap your business during these difficult times.
By being aware and vigilant of such possible scams, you will save your business hundreds, if not thousands, of money.
After all, as the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’, it is better to be safe by avoiding these scams at all than to be reeling from the aftermath of scams and wasting time to make police reports and launch investigations.
Open A New Business Banking AccountLooking for a bank account for all your business transactions? The OCBC Business Banking provides a wide range of business accounts for you to choose from so that you can find the most suitable account for your business needs.
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