FTC’s Operation Main Street Helps Protect SMBs From Fraud

The Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a new law enforcement initiative targeting operations seeking to defraud small businesses.

In partnership with the offices of eight state attorneys general (AGs), the New York division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, two U.S. attorneys’ offices and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the FTC has released the results of Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams.

The agencies revealed a total of 24 actions involving defendants who allegedly carried out scams against small businesses, including one new FTC case, three other FTC actions from the past six months, two criminal actions announced by U.S. attorneys’ offices and 18 actions by state AGs over the past year.

“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 Chairman Joe Simons. “A top FTC priority is to stem the tide of fraud against small businesses.”

BBB released an additional report based on a survey conducted in March 2018 by six local BBBs, containing information from approximately 1,200 small businesses nationwide. The report provides substantial new insights into how fraud affects small businesses, including the top five scams putting SMBs at risk: bank/credit card company imposters, directory listing and advertising services, fake invoices/supplier bills, fake checks and tech 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 businesses 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 FTC and the BBB have also released new business education materials, created to help small business owners and their employees avoid, identify and report scams.