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Avoiding scams, an essential goal for our small business owners facing many threats

Local small business owners encourage patience, research, and seeking advice
Posted at 5:00 AM, Aug 17, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — When our small business owners succeed it benefits our local economy. It’s why fraud experts and local business owners tell News5 we should all be concerned about the scam attacks many of them face that can impact their reputation, bottom line, and the people they employ.

The Federal Trade Commission has documented what these costly attacks on small businesses have looked like through the years. It’s been everything from fake invoices, ransomware, imposter scams, to empty promises to promote or improve a business.

Local business owners say these are judgment calls they have to make on a regular basis and getting it wrong could cost them everything.

”Natural Tones Co. is a clean natural deodorant that comes in light medium and dark to match with certain skin tones,” said local small business owner Brooke Pezdirtz.

For Brooke, starting her own product line and company was something she debated on doing for 18 years.

”When you start, you don’t know what you don’t know,” she said.

She finally launched her natural deodorant business 3 years ago and quickly learned she couldn’t trust everyone who reaches out to help or with an opportunity to grow the business.

”It’s so important to just take a breath, to really take a minute, or even a couple of days to think about it and do your research behind the opportunity that’s being presented because it’s not always what it looks like,” said Pezdirtz.

Inspired by Brooke’s vision, Amber Marek became a co-owner of the company, helping to spot unsolicited pitches they get on a regular basis that could lead to trouble.

”We haven’t been hoodwinked into anything yet, but it’s definitely out there,” warned Marek. There are a lot of ploys to benefit off of small business owners and not at their best interest.”

CSU Global’s Dr. Fraud J. Michael Skibasays when a pitch sounds so good it can be tough to spot fraud, scams, and even just questionable business ethics. So, the biggest red flag to look for is often how the person wants to get paid.

”Those wire transfers, the crypto, using the non-traditional payment methods. Things like paypal and venmo. Those are not business to business platforms. They are personal to personal and don’t have the same security protocols,” warned Skiba.

Pezdirtz and Marek tell News5 they see the value in this consumer warning and plan to seek advice and share information with other local entrepreneurs who are familiar with these challenges.

”Every single day, all day long, you are making decisions that will impact your life, your business partner’s life, your kids, your family… it’s very intense, but it’s also so rewarding,” said Marek.

The Federal Trade Commission has compiled a full list of attacks on small businesses that they’re aware of. The hope is getting familiar with what they look like can help stop a scam before it happens.

Here is the link to access those resources: https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/resources/scams-your-small-business-guide-business

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