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Press Release

Attorney General Shapiro Partners with Federal Trade Commission & 11 State AGs on “Operation Main Street” to Alert Small Businesses to Potential Scams

June 18, 2018 | Topic: Consumers

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a bipartisan partnership with 11 other Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and other agencies on “Operation Main Street” – a joint effort to alert small businesses to scams designed to defraud them and offer tips to avoid being scammed.

In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Shapiro warned small businesses to beware of these scams:

  • Non-Order Scam – Scammers attempt to charge and collect from small businesses for toner, light bulbs, cleaner or other supplies which the businesses never ordered.
  • Imposter Scam – Scammers impersonate the government or another public entity to try to trick small businesses into paying for licenses or registrations they do not need.
  • Fake Invoice Scam – Scammers send fake invoices to small businesses to deceive them into paying for merchandise or services they did not receive.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy across our Commonwealth, and my Bureau of Consumer Protection does whatever it takes to protect them from being scammed,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “If you’re a small business and you think you’ve been scammed, I want to hear from you. Call us, email us – we’re here to protect you. I’m proud to partner with a bipartisan group of Attorneys General, the FTC and others on this important action.”

There are nearly 1 million small businesses (999,591) in Pennsylvania, and small businesses employ 2.4 million workers across the Commonwealth – 47.3 percent of the private sector labor workforce.

Attorney General Shapiro encouraged small businesses to email scams@attorneygeneral.gov or 800-441-2555 to report any scam perpetrated upon their business.

The Better Business Bureau issued a scam report today that surveyed 1,200 small businesses nationwide. The results show that 67 percent of respondents believe there is a growing number of scammers targeting small businesses. The report detailed the top five scams that put small businesses at risk:

  • Bank or credit card company imposters
  • Directory listing and advertising services
  • Fake invoices or fraudulent supplier bills
  • Fake checks, and
  • Technology support scams.

“Scams are a significant – and growing – problem for small businesses,” said Beverly Baskin, President and CEO, Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Nearly two thirds of those we surveyed said their business had been targeted by a scammer in the past three years, and many said that their businesses suffered a loss of consumer trust as a result. BBB is pleased to partner with the FTC to help small businesses spot and avoid scams and fraud.”

The joint sweep announced today involved 24 total actions against defendants who perpetuated scams against small businesses across the country. While no Pennsylvania businesses were identified as victims during this particular sweep, Attorney General Josh Shapiro encouraged Pennsylvania businesses to call his Bureau of Consumer Protection if they’ve been victimized by a scam.

“Millions of U.S. consumers either own or work at small businesses nationwide, and the FTC is happy to join with our law enforcement partners and the BBB to help stop scams and spread the word about how they can identify and avoid scams targeting their livelihood,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau also issued resources for small businesses, which are available in both English and Spanish, that include information on scammers’ tactics and how small businesses can protect themselves from scams.

In addition to Attorney General Shapiro, the effort was joined by Attorneys General from Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

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