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Dec 9, 201311:10 AMOpen Mic

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How to avoid the hidden costs of scams

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We’ve all been approached by scam artists at one time or another. Putting aside scams directed at businesses — including fake invoices, overpayment scams, and vanity awards — there are many, many ways scammers try to get money from unsuspecting consumers.

In fact, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently put together a list titled “12 Scams of Christmas” to address just a few that are prevalent this time of year. Among the many year-round scams we hear about are stranded travelers, calls from Microsoft, work-at-home schemes, money-washing solicitations, fake charities, investment fraud, fake checks, foreign lotteries, and so many more. In fact, consumers lose billions each year to scammers, and this statistic doesn’t even take into account the nearly half of all scams that go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed to admit they fell for the rip-off. It’s both sad and scary that the BBB is never short of subject matter when it comes to scams. Sadder still are the hidden costs of these scams to your business.

Think about the anatomy of a scam. It appeals to emotion, to a person’s desire for riches, and to his or her desire to do the right thing. Isn’t this the anatomy of a basic sales pitch? Aren’t we constantly trying to convince consumers to make the right decision by appealing to their emotions and their checkbooks? We tell them our product will save them money, our services will give them peace of mind, and our business can be trusted to help them make the right decision.

Scammers targeting your customers are actually degrading that trust. They call on the phone. You call on the phone. They say, “You’ve been specially chosen for this offer.” You say, “As a valued customer, you’ve been specially chosen for this offer.” They say, “We wouldn’t want you to miss this opportunity.” You say, “We would love to have you take advantage of this opportunity.” Can you imagine just how confusing this is to your customers? That confusion manifests itself in indecision. And we all know that no decision means no sale. And that hurts your bottom line.

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