10 Online Scams That Target Small Businesses

The worst online scams involve ones that compromise the information of a business and its owners and employees. © Simon Chavez/dpa/Corbis

This one isn't a scam, per se, but it's often the result of many of the cons we've been discussing. Scammers can directly cheat businesses out of money and information, and they can also do it indirectly through placing viruses on a company's network.

A phishing scam, for example, can serve a double purpose. Getting business owners to click on a link in an email can lead them to a site where they'll type in sensitive personal information — and the link itself can insert a virus into the business's computers. Malware can also be disguised as a download in an email from someone you know. The contact doesn't have to come from an email, either: Scammers have been known to call people on the phone, claiming they're from Microsoft tech support or the help desk of an Internet provider, and ask for access to computer networks. If they're successful, the sky's the limit for what they can steal from you.

Author's Note: 10 Online Scams That Target Small Businesses

Once upon a time, not that long ago at all, I fell for a long-distance phone scam. I know perfectly well that you should never give personal info over the phone, but the caller ID actually appeared to be from my cell phone provider's customer service. I was walking my dogs, couldn't hear very well, got confused and ended up confirming my account number. That was apparently all they needed to start racking up hundreds of dollars in overseas charges. Lucky for me, it was easily fixed.

Related Articles


  • American Express Open Forum. "6 Scams that Target Small Businesses." June 21, 2012. (April 20, 2015) https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/6-scams-that-target-small-businesses/
  • Federal Trade Commission. "Business Opportunity Scams." (April 20, 2015) http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0019-business-opportunity-scams
  • Fell, Jason. "Don't Fall for a 'Vanity Scam.'" Entrepreneur, Jan. 6, 2011. (April 21, 2015) http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219012
  • Flatley, Joseph L. "Scamworld: 'Get rich quick' schemes mutate into an online monster." The Verge, May 10, 2012. (April 20, 2015) http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/10/2984893/scamworld-get-rich-quick-schemes-mutate-into-an-online-monster
  • Hinkle, Priscilla. "Silent No More: Online Business Coaching Scammers Beware." The Huffington Post, Aril 9, 2015. (April 20, 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/priscila-hinkle/silent-no-more-online-bus_b_7026588.html
  • Michigan State University Career Services Network. "Job Scams." (April 20, 2015) http://careernetwork.msu.edu/jobs-internships/Job-Scams/job-scams-information.html
  • Scambusters. "Top 10 Work at Home and Home Based Business Scams." (April 21, 2015) http://www.scambusters.org/work-at-home.html
  • Tozzi, John. "Is that Business Legitimate or a Scam?" Business Week, July 23, 2008. (April 20, 2015) http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/stories/2008-07-23/is-that-business-legitimate-or-a-scam-businessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice
  • Urani, Brad. "The Truth about Internet Marketing Part 2: SEO is a Scam." Dec. 20, 2013. (April 20, 2015) http://techli.com/2013/12/the-truth-about-internet-marketing-part-2-seo-is-a-scam
  • Western Union. "Tips to Avoid Falling Victim to the Overpayment Scam." (April 21, 2015)http://westernunion.com/static/img/consumer-protection/Tips_to_Avoid_Falling_Victim_to_the_Overpayment_Scam.pdf


Neighbor-spoofing Robocalls Are the New Nuisance

Neighbor-spoofing Robocalls Are the New Nuisance

Telemarketers are making tons of illegal robocalls using falsified caller IDs. Learn more about the scam in this article at HowStuffWorks.