Scammers are at it again, taking advantage of small business owners and causing some major headaches.

It’s called Slamming and has mostly been associated with the telecommunications industry. Slamming happens when a company switches your service provider without your consent.

It started with long-distance phone carriers in the late 1980’s and early 90’s after the industry was deregulated. Now, we are hearing stories of it happening with merchant service companies.

It starts with a phone call from a very convincing individual, claiming to be your current merchant service company. They go on to explain that you have been overcharged and they want to issue a refund to your account.

All you need to do is send them a few of your most recent processing statements so they can verify your account. In the merchant service world, many of the company names sound familiar.

“I process with merchant something” is something that I hear often when I ask a business owner who they use. So I can understand why people get confused.

Once they have your statements, they will ask for additional information including your checking account and social security number, again to ‘verify’.

What they are doing is opening a new merchant account for you. I have even heard of cases where the scammers have tricked business owners into leasing new equipment.

To protect yourself and your business always be cautious before giving out any information to someone calling you.

A few tips:

  • Never give your full social security or tax ID number. They should already have it if they are really working with you.
  • Ask them to verify the amount of your last deposit. Your merchant service company will have this information.
  • Check with your local representative to verify any billing issues.
  • Carefully read anything before you sign it.

I know this all sounds basic but sometimes in the business of life and business it’s easy for us to get careless. Be sure to have a simple policy for your staff as well so they don’t give out any information.