Warning issued after scammers steal thousands from Montana business
Missoula, Mont. —
Small businesses are the heart of Montana. Thousands of our families are involved with them.
NBC Montana Today recently interviewed Dan Buchta, with the Better Business Bureau.
He warns that one scam has already cost a Montana business thousands of dollars.
"It's called the yellow pages scam. The owner of this business received an invoice in the mail that looked official. It had the yellow pages logo. It had contact information. It had a balance due of $500. There was a note at the bottom. It said, 'past due, pay now to keep your credit score in good standing.' The business owner was intimidated. She sent off a payment for $500. Once these scammers get you once, they keep trying to get you over and over again. So, more invoices came in the mail. Threatening phone calls started. She kept on cutting checks and sending them out. Finally, she got suspicious and contacted us at the Better Business Bureau," said Buchta.
Is this kind of scam rare?
"We see the yellow pages scam very often. It's not the only fake invoice scam we see out there. There are several other scammers that target businesses. Another great example is fake office supply scams. They are relying on a business to be a little bit confused, not knowing which bills have been paid and not paid. So, that person, wanting to keep the business in good standing, sends off a check every time," said Buchta.
What should businesses do?
"A business owner should educate their entire staff that there are fake invoices out there. Then have every invoice funneled through one person who knows what services are tied to what invoices, and knows what bills have been paid and what bills haven't been paid. Have that person sign off on them before they go out. Also, don't be intimidated if there is a past due notice on the invoice. Just do your research and figure out whether that bill has been paid. Trust your gut," said Buchta.
If somebody is confused, you have a lot of resources.
"We have resources that you can use to find out about this scam and others through bbb.org.," said Buchta.