AUSTRALIAN Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel recently launched the latest of the commission’s Competing Fairly Forums, Scams, Frauds and Your Business at a national summit on small business. “The ACCC plays an active role in investigating and prosecuting scamsters,” Mr Samuel said. “The Trade Practices Act contains many provisions that prohibit different forms of scam conduct and the ACCC enforces those provisions.” There are three main types of scams most likely to impact on small businesses: •false invoicing scams; •business start-up scams; and •e-commerce scams. Each of these was examined in detail at the forum and discussed by a panel of prominent small business, franchising and e-commerce industry representatives. False invoicing scams, aimed at tricking businesses into paying for goods or services they do not want, or have not received, often target small businesses in the hope that operators are too busy with running their business to make proper inquiries when they receive new invoices. Business start-up scams offer the chance to get rich quickly for very little effort or to join an existing business structure, perhaps in the guise of a franchising opportunity, where your success is ‘guaranteed’. Small business people are also vulnerable to the many and varied e-commerce scams that target almost everyone who logs on each day. “The ACCC urges all businesses, and consumers, to be alert and protect themselves by doing research and seeking advice when they are considering new offers or opportunities,” Mr Samuel said. “A key message of this forum is that if an opportunity looks too good to be true, it usually is.” Mr Samuel also said information and education that would help prevent people falling victim to scams was clearly the most effective way of dealing with the issue. The forum was moderated by Emma Alberici, from the ABC’s The 7.30 Report, with the panel comprising Mr Samuel; Chris Peters, chief executive of the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry; franchising consultant Jason Gehrke; Wendy Phillips of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia; and Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association.
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