Dealing with Business Impersonation Scams

Dealing with Business Impersonation Scams

In the ever-evolving business landscape, so do the shadows of potential scams; small businesses reported $8.5 million in losses to impersonation scams across approximately 459 reports over the first three quarters of 2023.

A few significant figures illustrate how small businesses are affected by scammers. It should be noted that small businesses are vulnerable to the same scams as individuals, so it is not uncommon to have investment scams reported by them.

  • Microsoft impersonation scams – $4.7 million lost (~55% of total small businesses loss reported);
  • Business email compromise scams – $2.43 million lost (~29% of total small businesses loss reported); and
  • Imposter bond scams – $0.82 million lost (~10% of total small businesses loss reported).

Scammers are defrauding consumers and businesses with scam websites that impersonate well-known brands. Businesses impersonated by scammers may suffer brand damage and loss of consumer trust and confidence. Your customers may lose money and personal information if they engage with these fraudulent websites.

But first, what is an impersonation scam? It is where scammers pretend to be trusted businesses, friends, or family, to steal your money or personal information. Impersonation scammers can reach you on all mediums such as text message, websites, social media, email, and phone calls. Scammers often pretend to be government officials, well-known companies, charities, celebrities, law enforcement or even family and friends.


  1. How to protect your business from scams

If you’re a business, there are steps you can take to protect your brand online:

Monitor use of your brand and business name

Just like you might monitor your market, you should also monitor the use of your business and brand name. You can do this yourself or use a monitoring and removal service. This helps you detect and remove fraudulent websites before any harm is done to your business or customers.

Take action if your brand or website is being impersonated

If your brand or website is being impersonated, you should:

  • Find out who hosts the fraudulent website. You can do this using a free public verification website. Search online for ‘who hosts this website’ to find these services.
  • Find out how to make a report through the hosting provider’s website: this might be an online form or email. Include details of the impact on your intellectual property rights.
  • Report the impersonation to the website hosting provider and ask them to remove it. As you own the intellectual property in your business and brand, you’re best placed to make the report.
  • If your brand is being used in scam ads on social media, also report this activity directly to the platform.
  • Report scam websites to Scamwatch. This helps the National Anti-Scam Centre raise consumer awareness about recognising and avoiding scams.


  1. How to protect your customers from scams

Follow these steps to help protect your customers from losing money or personal information to business impersonation scams:

Be scam-smart with customer communications

  • Let your customers know how your business communicates with them so they can identify when a message is fake.
  • Promote the use of a secure app if you have one.
  • Don’t use links. Hyperlinks in messages and emails are often associated with scams. If you state that you don’t use them when contacting your customers, it makes scams easier to spot.

Have a clear process for dealing with scams

  • Create a clear process for your customers to report website impersonations to you. This makes it easier for you to act quickly.
  • If your business is being impersonated, put warnings on your social media accounts, website, app and at points of sale to let customers know what’s happening, with links to Scamwatch to report the scam and find advice on how to protect themselves.

Tell customer service staff about scams

From Microsoft impersonation to imposter bond scams, the risks are varied and impactful. Scammers target both finances and brand reputation through deceptive websites. Recognizing diverse tactics, businesses must promptly address impersonation, emphasizing customer protection through scam-smart communication, clear reporting processes, and staff education. Staying vigilant allows businesses to fortify against scams.


Have you ever thought of declaring a scam? Shockingly, about 30% of scams are currently unreported. By reporting scams anonymously or on behalf of another person to Scamwatch, you help protect others and assist us to disrupt and stop scammers.

As we traverse the digital realm, our best defences against scams lie in being vigilant and aware. Through maintaining awareness and embracing secure online habits, we can actively play a part in creating a safer digital space for all.

Being scammed is a horrible experience and it can happen to anyone. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to family and friends or you can contact Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636).

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