Back on December 8th we did a posting titled Tis The Season on vacuum cleaner "salesmen" who were targeting elderly people in South St. Louis County by using a ploy similar to the old bait and switch. That scam was bad enough, but here's one from the AARP on a very clever and really scary scam. At first it didn't seem to be particularly relevant for small business owners until the article described that this particular scam was targeting small businesses.
Here's how the scam worked. The prospective victim would receive a telephone call from a telemarketer selling Internet services. Little did the victims know that their phone conversation was being recorded and the pitch was designed to get a "yes" response to a question. The telemarketer would then edit the recordings to make it seem that the person had agreed to sign up for their service. It gets better though, they would then mail "welcome packets" that were deliberately designed to look like junk mail so the packets would end up in the trashcan. Hidden in the fine print was the legally required disclosure of their "enrollment" and that they had 15 days to cancel to avoid monthly charges. The scam worked flawlessly on over 400,000 people to the tune of nearly $75 million until they were put of business by the feds.
The article concludes by giving some lessons to learn from this scheme and there are a few links to some other scams in the piece. Another interesting one is how crooks are installing card reading devices on gas pumps to steal debit card information. To quote a famous line from Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there".