Scams that target small business and what you can do

As more small businesses use digital and online tools to run their business and sell things, the ACCC is urging you to protect your information.

Scams affecting small business

Scams can target any small business. The ACCC's Targeting scams report found that business email compromise scams caused the largest losses of any scam type in 2019, with $132 million lost.

Business email compromise scams trick someone into paying invoices to scammers’ bank accounts instead of the legitimate account.

Other common scams that may impact your business include:

  • phishing — for example where a business responds to a call, email or text message impersonating a known contact or real organisation
  • hacking and malware — for example where a scammer compromises a business’s systems and accesses their data
  • online shopping scams — for example where a business attempts to buy equipment online and the product never arrives.

Many scammers see small businesses as a target for scams as they are often busy and have fewer resources to devote to security than large businesses.

Five simple steps to avoid scams

  1. Inform and educate your staff members about scams (such as by forwarding this email).
  2. Have strong processes in place for verifying and paying accounts, and make sure all staff know about them.
  3. Ensure your systems have up-to-date anti-virus software.
  4. Consider what business information you post on social media and networking sites, as scammers use publicly available information to target businesses.
  5. Back up your data regularly and store your backups offsite and offline.

Do you have privacy obligations?

Scammers can gain identity information by unlawfully accessing your records. Some small businesses have obligations to protect information under the Privacy Act, so you should check if your small business needs to comply with privacy laws.

If your small business has privacy obligations, you must take reasonable steps to protect personal information from misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

Stay ahead of scammers

Scams Awareness Week is helping to highlight common scams affecting small business and what you can do to reduce the risk to your business.

Visit the Scamwatch website to listen to the ACCC's Scams Awareness Week podcast series and for more tips on protecting your small business from scammers.

To keep up-to-date on scams, subscribe to Scamwatch email alerts and follow @Scamwatch_gov on Twitter.