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Opening a business requires planning, elbow grease, and probably some paperwork to register your new company with your state or local government. And that’s where some not-so-honest outfits may try to confuse you into thinking they’re from the government and that you need to pay money to complete your registration. Their mailings look like an official bill for documents to complete your registration – and may even include what looks like a government seal. To convince you it’s legit, the mailer may include your business identification number. To get you to pay, the mailer claims that you need to hurry up and pay or you could be in legal hot water.

But here’s the thing: the people behind the mailers are not from the government and you probably don’t need the paperwork they’re talking about, at least not to complete your registration. At best, you’ll get overcharged. At worst, they could be scammers who steal your money or account information. What can you do to steer clear of these schemes?

Spread the word. The best defense is to be sure everyone at your workplace knows about this scam and how it works. Scammers often target several people in an organization to create confusion. Are you part of a business networking group or service organization? Help your fellow businesspeople and fill them in on these schemes.

Check all invoices closely. Be sure that you have clear procedures to approve expenditures, and that major spending can’t be triggered by an unexpected call, email, or invoice. If you get one of these mailers, you may need to check in with the people on your staff who are responsible for filing legal documents with the state.

Pay attention to how you pay. If someone tells you to pay with a wire transfer, reloadable card, gift card, or bitcoin, you can bet it’s a scam.

If you spot practices like this, we want to hear about it. Tell us at ftc.gov/complaint.

 

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3 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

sunshine 78
January 10, 2020
I HAVE BEEN HACKED BEFORE ,THEY USED MY EMAIL TO FOR MORE HE WAS OUT AGAIN LAST WEEK ,BACK TO THE OLD GOV.FREE MONEY LINGO .ITS FROM OVER SEAS,..BE CAREFULL.
Mountain Air
January 13, 2020
VOIP calling has created a hackers/scammer paradise. In innocent people all over the world cannot safely answer their phones. I own a business and get more than 20 calls a day from scammers—- everything from IRS, Google Listing Scams, Vacations, Car Warranty... the list goes on and on ... seems like in order to have it appear a call is coming from a number— that that exact number should be registered to that person/entity. Seems like the only solution for this Goliath Issue. Please please help us.
Disgusted
January 23, 2020

In reply to by Mountain Air

I get at least 20 calls each day. The number on the display is usually a number from my area code and my locale. So I answer in case it is legitimate. It almost never is .......so disgusted. Must be something , someone can do. Thought about cancelling my house phone, but I also get some calls on my cell!!!!!