1

Scams & Dispute Resolution

Principals Update 14/06

Be aware of small business scams

Scams that target small businesses come in many forms – from false bills for advertising or directory listings to being charged for goods you never ordered, and even being sent fake renewal notices for your domain name or a domain name very similar to your own.

Remember these golden rules to help you beat scammers:

  1.  Ensure you have clear procedures for verifying, paying and managing accounts and invoices. Limit the number of people authorised to place orders or pay invoices.
  2. Make sure the business billing you is the one you normally deal with. Check whether all the details on the invoices you receive are the same as usual or whether some are subtly different.
  3. Never provide personal information and banking details to anybody you don’t know and trust.
  4. Install reputable computer protection software and a firewall – and keep them up to date.
  5. Regularly train your staff to increase their ability to identify scam conduct before it’s too late.

You can protect yourself and your business by being aware of the most recent scams targeting small businesses. To do this, visit the SCAMwatch website, sign up for free SCAMwatch radar alerts and read the ACCC’s Small business scams factsheet or 2013 Targeting scams report.

If you become aware of a scam or are scammed, report it to the SCAMwatch Infocentre on 1300 795 995.

New online dispute resolution tool for small businesses released

The Minister for Small Business, the Hon. Bruce Billson MP, today launched ‘Dispute Support’, a new online dispute resolution information and referral tool for small businesses.

Brismark Principal Update - Issue 6 - August 2014The online tool aims to assist small businesses quickly and easily find the information they need to resolve a business dispute, and identify the most appropriate low-cost dispute resolution service. Dispute Support also provides information on understanding and managing disputes and tips to help avoid disputes in the future.

Dispute Support was developed by the Australian Small Business Commissioner (ASBC) in conjunction with representatives from state and territory governments, including state Small Business Commissioners.

Dispute Support is available on the ASBC’s website at www.asbc.gov.au/disputesupport




Scammers continue to target businesses

PRINCIPAL UPDATE 14/05

Brismark Principal Update - Issue 5 - July 2014Scammers don’t only target consumers – they target small businesses too.

Scams can reach any business, regardless of its size, age, location or industry sector, and cause that business to lose money.

The ACCC’s Targeting scams report 2013 reveals that over 90,000 Australians reported scams to the ACCC last year, with almost $90 million reported lost.

The most common scam affecting small businesses is the false billing scam, which includes advertising, directory and domain name scams. In 2013, over 3,600 reports were received about this scam – an increase of 45 per cent from 2012 – and almost $725,000 was lost.

This type of scam targets small businesses by tricking them into paying for unwanted or unauthorised listings or advertisements in magazines, journals, business registers or directories.

Common scam tactics are to send a business a subscription form disguised as an outstanding invoice to get the business to sign up for unwanted ongoing advertising services. Scammers also falsely claim that the directory or publication is well known or has a high readership.

Another common false billing approach used by scammers involves sending invoices for the renewal of domain names. Scammers will send businesses an invoice to renew their current domain name registration, however the domain name will be different, such as ‘.com’ instead of ‘.com.au’.
Other scams that target small businesses include office supply scams, overpayment scams and investment scheme scams.

If you run or work in a small business, protect yourself from scammers by following these golden rules:

1. Ensure you have clear procedures for verifying, paying and managing accounts and invoices. Limit the number of people authorised to place orders or pay invoices.

2. Make sure the business billing you is the one you normally deal with. Check whether all the details on the invoices you receive are the same as usual or whether some are subtly different.

3. Never provide personal information and banking details to anybody you don’t know and trust.

4. Don’t let anyone pressure you into making decisions involving payments or ongoing contracts. If you are unsure, always seek independent financial or legal advice.

5. Install reputable computer protection software and a firewall – and keep them up to date.

To learn more about false billing scams, watch this SCAMwatch warning video. To keep aware of common scams and current scam trends, visit the SCAMwatch website, sign up for SCAMwatch radar alerts, and read the ACCC’s Small business scams factsheet or 2013 Targeting scams report.

And if you become aware of a scam or are scammed, report it to the SCAMwatch Infocentre on 1300 795 995. Your report helps the ACCC to monitor scams and take action where appropriate, including to educate other small businesses on new or emerging scams.




Small Business Scams Education Campaign

PRINCIPAL 14/04

The ACCC is warning small business owners about false billing scams after the recently released 2013 Targeting scams report revealed a 45 per cent increase in complaints about these scams.

Principal Update - Issue 4 - July 2014

“False billing scams continue to be the most common scam targeting the small business community, with 3,672 reports received in 2013 and almost $725,000 reported lost,” ACCC Deputy Chairman Dr Michael Schaper said in the media release.

False billing scams attempt to trick busy businesses into paying for unwanted or unauthorised listings or advertisements in magazines, journals or business directories.

With the end of the financial year being a prime time to settle accounts, it pays to take a moment and check if invoices are the real deal,” Dr Schaper said. “Often a scam is disguised as an outstanding invoice to get the business to sign-up for unwanted advertising or office supplies. Another common approach involves sending invoices for the renewal of a non-existent domain name registration.”

Dr Schaper has offered small businesses this advice on avoiding false billing scams:

  • Make sure the business you are dealing with is the real deal – if you receive a form or tax invoice out of the blue, verify who they are by contacting the company directly using contact details you sourced independently through a phone book or online search.
  • Make your business ‘fraud-free’ – effective management procedures can go a long way towards preventing scams. Have a clearly defined process for verifying and paying accounts and invoices, and try to avoid giving too many staff authorisation to make orders or pay invoices.
  • Don’t be intimidated – do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions involving payments or contracts. If you are unsure, always seek independent financial or legal advice.
  • Update your IT security software regularly and make sure you use and offer secure online payment methods.

ACCC education campaign

Ongoing education and awareness-raising are critical components of the ACCC’s approach to preventing harm from scams. The ACCC Small Business team is running an education campaign to raise awareness about scams so businesses are empowered with the knowledge and skills
to identify and avoid falling victim to false billing or any other scams.

Below are details of ACCC materials that may be of assistance:

SCAMwatch warning video about false billing scams: available on the ACCC’s You Tube Channel

Publications: read the ACCC’s Small business scams factsheet or 2013 Targeting scams report

Website: the SCAMwatch website provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams

Scam email alerts: sign up for free SCAMwatch radar alerts to remain up-to-date with common scams and current scam trends

Twitter: there will be a number of tweets from @SCAMwatch_gov about small business scams.  If you don’t already do so, you might like to follow @SCAMwatch_gov to receive and share these tweets.




WH&S Taken Seriously

PRINCIPAL 14/03

Principal Update - Issue 3 - April 2014WH&S was taken seriously if the attendance at the two recent WH&S workshops is anything to go by. Thirty-one Member Principals or their WH&S Officers (or both) heard the message directly from WH&SQ Inspectors.

 

 
We would like to thank the following Member businesses for their attendance and taking WH&S seriously.

Alfred E Chave
Armstrong Bros
BG Brisbane
Central Park Produce
Costa Farms
Don Alroe & Sons
Franklin Bros
Fresh Produce Group
Fruitlink
GNL Produce
Gollagher Bros
Ireland 53
J Allen
JE Tipper
JH Leavy
Lamanna Bananas
Lind & Sons
M&D Vegetable Specialists
Montague Fresh
Moraitis
Murray Bros
O’Toole Produce
Perfection Fresh
Pershouse
Premier Fruits
Priority Produce
Ross & Co
RW Pascoe
Sun Produce
United Lettuce
United Organics
Viva Produce
W S Williams

 

The WH&SQ Inspectors reiterated the general duties of the ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU) with the message to manage your risk, manage your obligations and that you are responsible for your employees and their actions.

They went on to focus on their most recently identified issues:

• working at heights

• working in confined spaces (cold rooms)

• correct storage and use of chemicals in the workplace

• smoking while operating high risk work plant,

in addition, they will be reviewing tenant pallet racking and unsecured load travel around the site as a secondary focus.

These are important issues. In response to Members and tenants request a third information workshop has been scheduled for 9:30am, Wednesday 30 April 2014.

If you have not attended yet, it is strongly recommended that you register to attend this third session via either the Brisbane Markets Tenant Hub or by contacting Simmone Porter on 07 3915 4222 or [email protected].

 

 

 




Next Phase of Superstream

PRINCIPAL 14/02

With the end of the financial year fast approaching, it is timely for employers to consider the following questions to ensure they are prepared for the next phase of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) SuperStream.

The SuperStream standard is part of the government’s Super Reform package aimed at providing a consistent, reliable electronic method of transacting linked data and payments for superannuation.

From 1 July 2014, employers with 20 or more employees are required to use the Data and Payment Standard (the standard) when making superannuation contributions.

SuperStream involves the electronic payment and processing of employee contributions using a standardised and simplified format. An employer can select the electronic method best suited to their business including payroll upgrade, clearing house, accounting or bureaux service. Some funds also have electronic channels which will provide SuperStream processing points.

Consider this!

Are any of your employer or Super Guarantee super contributions being paid to a Self Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF) on behalf of yourself or an employee?

Do you employ 20 or more staff?

Is your payroll system SuperStream compliant?

SuperStream has been transmitting super contributions and relevant contribution data electronically to retail and industry superannuation funds for some time. However, from 1 July 2014, employers who employ 20 or more employees will be required to provide SMSFs with contributions and relevant contribution data electronically.

What you need to do?

If you employ 20 or more staff, it is likely that you are already complying with the requirements of SuperStream. To confirm whether the current version of your payroll software is SuperStream compliant, contact your payroll software provider.

Principal Update - Issue 2 - April 2014Despite this, if one of your employees has requested their super contribution be paid to a SMSF they have until 31 May 2014 to provide you with all of the following:

  • The name of their SMSF
  • The fund’s ABN
  • The fund’s electronic service address for SuperStream purposes
  • The SMSFs bank account details including:
    • The SMSFs bank account name
    • BSB number
    • Account number.

* Please note: Employers with 19 or fewer employees have another year before they need to request this information from employees.

End note: The ATO has recently confirmed its view that a contribution is not received by a super fund until the actual contribution amount is received into the fund’s bank account.

It may be prudent for you to allow at least seven working days for contributions to be processed through clearing houses and the banking system.

For example, this year 30 June falls on a Monday, so we suggest that final super contributions for the financial year are remitted from your (employer) bank account by no later than 20 June 2014.




Privacy Law Changes

PRINCIPAL 14/01

If your business handles customer information, you are likely to be required to update your policy, procedures and systems to comply with a number of major changes to the Privacy Act 1998 (Cth) which came into effect on March 12. Otherwise you may face costly penalties of up to $340,000 for individuals or up to $1.7 million for corporations for serious or repeated breaches of the new privacy laws.

The 13 new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) will replace the existing National Privacy Principles (NPPs) that currently apply to businesses. The changes include a set of new, harmonised, privacy principles that will regulate the handling of personal information by both the public and private sector.

Two key reforms include:

  • A stand alone direct marketing principle (APP 7). Generally, businesses may only use or disclose personal information for direct marketing purposes where the individual has either consented to their personal information being used for direct marketing, or has a reasonable expectation that their personal information will be used for this purpose, and conditions relating to opt-out mechanisms are met.
  • Cross-border disclosure of personal information (APP 8). If your business discloses personal information to an overseas recipient, you are required to “take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the overseas recipient does not breach the APPs in relation to the information”. In certain circumstances, you may be deemed liable for a breach of the APPs by the overseas recipient. This is particularly relevant if your business discloses or transfers information overseas for the purposes of, for example, outsourcing or cloud computing.

What does this mean for your business?

  • Conduct an audit of how your business collects, stores, uses and discloses personal information.
  • Review and update your business’s privacy policy, procedures and systems to comply with the 13 APPs, particularly the privacy policy on your business website and privacy statements. If necessary, provide your customers with your updated privacy policy.
  • Train your staff about the new privacy laws and how to deal with complaints about your privacy policy to ensure compliance with the APPs.

Need Help?
If sufficient interest is shown, Brismark will host a “Privacy Law Reforms” seminar/workshop to address how businesses can ensure their compliance with the new regime in order to avoid the penalties for non-compliance introduced by the Act.