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Small Businesses, Beware Fake Government Agents

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on June 29, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Have you ever gotten a shady phone call from someone claiming to be a government agent? Individuals get these calls all the time, with fraudsters claiming they are calling on behalf of tax or other authorities. But businesses too are targets for scammers, and ABC News reports on the latest trick aimed to deprive your business of its hard-earned money. Consider this a warning about workplace warning posters.

Posted Warnings

The scam has to do with labor and safety regulation posters. Perhaps you know about these because you have them posted in your office or have seen them in other businesses. According to state and federal laws, workers must be given notice of particular laws or rules that impact work and often these items must be posted in particular places.

Generally speaking, these are free. No state or federal government agency should be making money from selling posters that business owners are required to have on hand, and authorities do not sell these. But reportedly scammers have been calling business owners and asking for hundreds of dollars for poster packs, with the callers claiming they are government agents. They threaten business owners that failure to comply could end with fines, closure, or worse.

Poster Purchase

The Federal Trade Commission claims that one company in particular, D and S Marketing Solutions, made more than $1.3 million with this poster scam. The real government agency complained that the marketers use official-sounding names to threaten marketers.

Calling on behalf of the non-existent "Occupational Compliance and Safety Administration," the marketers warned newly registered businesses that they would be shut down if they did not display official posters. Then they asked for hundreds of dollars for the materials, which the government provides to businesses for free. Unfortunately, many businesses reportedly complied with the fake agents' requests and the marketing business was able to make well over a million dollars selling free government goods.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you are concerned about compliance, talk to a lawyer. Get advice on how to stay within the law, what your obligations are, and how to avoid fraudsters.

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