12 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Internet Scams

12 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Internet Scams

Even before personal tech devices – and internet scams – became commonplace, scammers existed. They used the postal service and wall-mounted telephones to scam people out of money and identities. Sometimes they succeeded.

Internet Scams, Spam and Phishing – Oh My!

As technology advanced, along came the internet scams. Now they use email, SMS (text) messaging and mobile phones to try to get access to identities, bank accounts or to persuade their victims to send money.

If you have a mobile device, if you get email, if you purchase things online, or even if you just do business with companies that store information in the cloud, you are unfortunately at risk in some way.

Think about all of the stories you have seen recently about a large retailer or financial institution whose customer data was breached. Even social media use can put you at risk, as scammers often impersonate accounts by creating a “mirror” account using the images and text of another or posing as someone in order to interact with potential targets.

12 Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Business from Internet Scams

There are some basic ways you can protect yourself and your organization from internet fraud, and you can also learn to spot red flags that may indicate someone is trying to scam you. The FBI’s website has many great resources for this, including a list of recent email scams and warnings. They estimate email scams alone cost over $26 Billion in 2019!

  1. Refrain from giving personal or financial information out to incoming sources. Your bank is never going to email you and ask you to verify your account information – they already have it!
  2. Check the sender information. Email scams often come to you as though they are being sent by a friend, retailer, bank, or some other entity you do business with. However, when you look closely at the actual return email address, the address isn’t a match to the organization. The URL/domain names are different.
  3. Verify, verify, verify! One common email and telephone scam is to contact someone pretending to be a colleague or loved one who has an emergent financial need. Before sending money or giving out account information, get in touch with the actual person (colleague or loved one) or someone who knows them well and can verify the need is legitimate.
  4. Ask for a call back number and see if it matches publicly available information for the organization.
  5. Google some of the terminology, sender information, subject line, company name, etc., from the email to see if it matches up to known scams.
  6. If the communication contains some kind of threat, such as a threat to shut down your network, request for ransom for your domain name or if your website gets hacked, or a personal threat, contact local or federal law enforcement, your web hosting provider, your lawyer, etc., to see how to proceed.
  7. Protect your website with a firewall, antivirus, anti-spyware/malware and anti-spam software, and an SSL certificate that encrypts the data submitted to you via the forms on your website. With all of this security comes updates, so be sure to update your software on a regular basis.
  8. Shut it down! Shut down your computer when it’s not in use to prevent attacks from happening and/or stop any attack in process.
  9. Download with care. Many forms of malware are sent via email and if you click on a link or download a file from the internet, you may be unwittingly installing malware or spyware that can make your business vulnerable to attacks, ransomware or a data breach.
  10. Don’t click. You might think you’re closing a malicious popup only to find that the “X” you clicked on to close the box started an action instead. Instead of clicking to close a pop-up window or ad, close the browser window instead.
  11. Clear your devices’ cache, cookies and history. Clear out any unwanted internet activity by clearing your devices cache, which are temporary files stored on a device to make loading re-visited websites more efficient. You can also clear your devices internet browsing history and delete cookies to free up space on your device. This type of device “housekeeping” can make your devices run faster, frees up memory, and helps keep your device safer in the process. If you’re unsure about how to do this, contact your IT department, a local IT (information technology) or computer repair/maintenance specialist, or google information about how to do these types of tasks on device’s operating system.
  1. Institute protocols. Make training about internet fraud part of your employee orientation and on-going training. Institute protocols and rules for use of company devices on the internet (including for email).

What – Exactly – Are Scams, Spam and Phishing?

Here are some of the common terms it’s important to understand, in order to protect yourself and your organization.

Scams – Internet Fraud

The FBI defines internet fraud as “the use of Internet services or software with Internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them. Internet crime schemes steal millions of dollars each year from victims and continue to plague the Internet through various methods.” It describes several types of internet scams including:

  • Business Email Compromise (BEC) wherein legitimate business email accounts are compromised “through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques” in order to conduct an unauthorized transaction of funds
  • Data Breach – Unauthorized access (copying, transmitting, viewing) to business data which might include customer accounts, employee information, bank or financial information, etc.
  • Denial of Service – When a hacker is able to interrupt access to any system or network, such as when a website gets “hi-jacked” or rerouted to another URL, users are unable to login to systems, network access is cut off, etc.
  • Email Account Compromise (EAC) which is similar to BEC but may also extend to the general public, and in which compromised or impersonated email accounts are used to solicit funds from victims
  • Malware – Malicious software, codes, scripts, etc., used to disable or damage computers, networks or other devices
  • Scareware – Similar to malware but includes the use of scare tactics to get victims to click on something, send funds or take some other action
  • Phishing, a.k.a. “Spoofing” refers to use of forged or faked electronic documents. Spoofing is when an email is disguised to appear as though it’s coming from a legitimate source (such as a financial institution or brand) rather than its actual source (also referred to as vishing, smishing or pharming). In both cases, the intent is usually to get the victim to provide personal or sensitive information like passwords, credit card information, bank account numbers or to redirect the victim to a malicious website.

And finally

  • Ransomware – A form of malware and/or phishing or email compromise in which money is demanded in order to restore access to data, a network, or even suggesting the recipient has committed crimes or done something else (e.g., “we caught you doing ___________ and we’re going to release this information if you don’t pay!”)

Internet fraud schemes frequently occur as investment schemes, the infamous Nigerian prince letter fraud, non-delivery of merchandise, internet auctions, business or credit card fraud.

If you believe you or your business has been the victim of one of these schemes, you should report it to your financial institution, any organization that the scammer was posing as (such as when they pose as your bank, a retail store, a charity, or some other organization), and you can also report internet fraud directly to the FBI to assist in their efforts to discover and prevent these types of costly and malicious crimes. If you haven’t been victimized per se but want to report a tip about internet fraud to the FBI, you can do that as well.

You might also like: Understanding Common Business Financial Statements

Selling on Amazon - 6 Ways to Get Your Brand Selling on Amazon

6 Avenues for Selling on Amazon

Selling on Amazon is a great way to get into e-commerce, especially if you want to sell products online but do not have the desire (or means) to build out your own selling platform, apps and online store.

6 Ways Amazon Vendors Get Started Selling on Amazon

If you choose to sell on Amazon, you gain instant access to millions of shoppers – 95 million in the U.S. alone – with the ability to list products for sale as soon as they are available, with just a few clicks. There are many benefits and few risks in choosing to sell through an online powerhouse like Amazon, a company that has been ranked #1 by its customers in customer satisfaction in the Foresee Experience Index Top 100 Brands and Holiday Editions (even coming in ahead of customer service powerhouses Nordstrom, Tiffany and other luxury brands) for nine consecutive years.

Whether you are an individual who makes unique handmade items or you own a brick-and-mortar business and are looking to become more competitive by selling your products online you will have no problem finding a selling tool from Amazon that will work for you.

Selling on Amazon – Amazon Vendors

Vendors who want to start selling on Amazon can start small by selling as an Individual or go all out with a Professional subscription:

Sell as a Professional

  • More than 40 items a month
  • $39.99 per month + applicable selling fees
  • Currently receive 1-month free subscription
Sell as an Individual

  • Fewer than 40 items per month
  • No monthly fee
  • $0.99 per sale + applicable selling fees

 

Before you register, decide what products you would like to sell. There are more than 20 product categories that are available to all sellers and at least 10 more exclusive categories for Professional Sellers. Sellers can list items for sale in any of the 20+ general categories without Amazon’s approval but must submit items that apply to exclusive categories for Amazon’s approval.

Once you decide which plan is right for you, register and start listing! Once you register you will follow a simple, four-step process.

  1. List your items. You can list them one at a time or use bulk tools to add large batches of items if you have a Professional selling subscription.
  2. Customers can see your listed items as soon as they are up on Amazon.com. Many Amazon customers use tools like one-click purchasing to make quick, worry-free purchases. Make sure that your offer is listed accurately and only use high-quality images of your products.
  3. Amazon will notify you when an order is placed for one of your products. You can handle the shipping yourself or use Fulfillment by Amazon.
  4. Get paid! Amazon will deposit your earnings into your bank account at regular intervals and of course notify you when your payments are sent.

Product sales made quickly and easily with Amazon will only serve to grow your business. Both Professional and Individual sellers can add new products to the Amazon catalog, have Amazon handle customer service, shipping and fulfillment (with Fulfillment by Amazon) and sell products in the U.S. and Canada. Professional sellers can also use bulk listing and reporting tools from the Amazon Marketplace Web Service, customize their shipping rates and offer special promotions and gift wrap options for products in certain categories, and their products are eligible for top placement on product detail pages.

 

Fulfillment by Amazon

Vendors selling as Individuals or Professionals are both eligible to use Fulfillment by Amazon. When sellers participate in this program, Amazon acts as warehouse, distribution center, shipping and customer service departments, leaving business owners free to focus on other activities. This can be a great solution for scaling a business and reaching more customers without making huge investments in warehouse, transportation and shipping solutions.

 

 

Selling on Amazon Business

If you are a manufacturer or distributor you can list your full selection of products and reach millions of business customers by selling on Amazon Business. As an Amazon Business vendor, you can customize your offering with access to pricing, brand-building and business profile features tailored to the needs of your organization. Amazon Business vendors can also utilize Fulfillment by Amazon, integrated inventory and listing tools, and multiple advertising options.

 

Selling on Handmade at Amazon

Amazon launched a category for people and organizations that sell handmade items in 2015 called “Handmade at Amazon,” which is comparable to powerhouse e-commerce site Etsy.  In addition to product pages, sellers also get to create and publish their own Artisan Profile to tell the story behind their handmade goods and the passion they have for the hand-crafted products they offer on the platform. Their pages are housed behind a custom URL which they can use on their websites, social networks or even their business cards to connect shoppers with their wares.

selling on handmade by amazon

Sellers using Handmade at Amazon receive the same great support and brand exposure that other Amazon sellers receive as a result of this partnership, for which Amazon charges a 12 percent referral fee for goods sold through the platform. The products sold on the platform appear alongside all of the other products offered on Amazon for a seamless shopping experience and sellers also have the option to pay to sponsor products or run promotions through Seller Central. As an added benefit, Sellers can even earn up to 10 percent back on Amazon sales that are generated from visits to their personal websites.

To qualify, products available in a Handmade by Amazon store must be entirely hand-crafted by the artisan or within a company of 20 or fewer employees. The platform is currently home to artisans that produce Jewelry, Home products (Art, Baby Bedding, Bath, Bedding, Furniture, Home Décor, Kitchen & Dining, Lighting, Patio, Lawn & Garden, Storage & Organization), Party Supplies and Stationery, but the platform may add new categories in the future.

Selling Services on Amazon

Selling Services on Amazon allows top Pros, like Assemblers, House Cleaners, Handymen, and more, to sell professional services directly to Amazon customers in their area. People looking for services in their area connect with providers via the Selling Services on Amazon App. Services sellers are required to provide all applicable licensing and carry a minimum general liability insurance. There is no cost unless you actually provide services to someone who hires you through the app, at which time Amazon processes the payment and collects their portion of the fee (examples on the site range from 15-20%, or 15% of recurring services).

selling services to consumers on amazon

Selling Apps on Amazon

From it’s main selling platform to Alexa, the Amazon AppStore and Dash Services, Amazon is building an impressive app collection of its own. It also offers app developers the opportunity to sell their app through the AWS Developer Center, making it easier not only to market your app but even to build it.

selling apps on amazon

Additional Perks for Merchants via Amazon Pay and Advertising

And while not officially avenues for selling on Amazon, you can also Advertise on Amazon using sponsored products, sponsored brands or stores (multi-page destinations for online shoppers). Amazon also makes it easier to accept payments through Amazon Pay, which enables shoppers on your website to make purchases with the payment information they have stored in their Amazon shopper accounts. Currently, domestic fees for payment processing are 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, roughly equivalent to that of Paypal and other 3rd party payment processors.

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Expediting Amazon Vendor Payment Terms

Amazon provides vendors with paralleled reach and access to customers in the U.S. or worldwide. However, Amazon vendors may wait up to 60 days or more from the time products sell for Amazon to forward payment to them.

Amazon vendor factoring services make it possible for Amazon vendors to receive payment on goods sold the same day statements of future payments are generated, giving manufacturers, distributors and others who sell on Amazon the ability to reinvest in their business more quickly, instead of waiting weeks or months to get paid.

Find out more about how Zulily and Amazon vendors benefit from invoice factoring as a cash flow solution or request a free, no-obligation quote for invoice factoring services using the form below. 

How-To and Marketing Tips for Vendors Selling on Zulily

How-To and Marketing Tips for Vendors Selling on Zulily

Are you thinking of selling on Zulily? Find out how to become a Zulily vendor and what you can do to help boost sales of your brand’s wares selling on Zulily, Amazon or any third party e-commerce site.

Is Selling On Zulily Right for Your Business?

Zulily is a fast-growing ecommerce company with over $1 billion in net sales. It is highly ranked among on lists of top online retailers by such noted organizations as Fast Company, the U.S. Apparel & Accessory Online Retailer Ranking, and National Retail Foundation’s Top 50 Favorite Online Retailers. The great reviews Zulily has received from brands make it hard to find any downside to signing up to sell your own products, especially if segments of the e-commerce site’s vast customer base fall within your own target markets.

How Does the Platform Support Vendors Selling on Zulily?

Zulily does a lot of marketing work on behalf of its brands. The platform’s sophisticated tools make a brand’s products visible to the right buyers which include more than 5 million active U.S. customers (most of whom are women aged 25-45) as well as customers from more than 80 other countries. Of their U.S. customers, many are loyal, with 88 percent of the site’s North American orders being placed by repeat customers.

Zulily vendors can expect the platform to have their products up on the site and ready to sell in just a few days. Platform tools make it easy for vendors to display their products professionally by including photography and design services at no cost with a vendor account. The site also provides free copyrighting services to vendors for added peace of mind.

Vendors selling on the platform currently represent more than 15,000 brands; but since the e-commerce site is currently one of the fastest growing, there is no reason that new vendors will not find similar success in bringing their inventory and new products to the public using this platform. Specifically, the site suggests it could be a great way for a brand to:

  • Launch a new brand or product
  • Sell through limited-quantity or seasonal products
  • Clear out excess inventory

We’re obsessed with offering customers something special every day at amazing prices.” – Zulily.com

The First Step to Selling on Zulily is Becoming a Zulily Vendor

If you are interested in selling on Zulily or finding out whether it’s a good fit for your brand, you can apply to become a Zulily vendor online or by contacting them 855-396-3642 or email at newvendor@zulily.com

The site’s vendor pages even offer an overview of how to get started selling on Zulily and what to expect during your brand’s sales event in this “Zulily 101” video that lists a simple five step process for vendors:

  • Send a list of your product SKUs and inventory quantity(s)
  • Send your own product images or send samples for Zulily to photograph
  • Your event will launch within a short period of time, usually running for three days, during which you can access real time sales reports
  • Zulily will send you a purchase order on the first day of your event and another one when your event has ended
  • After you receive the purchase orders, you ship the products ordered to Zulily’s warehouse and then they ship individual orders out to customers

Zulily vendors have access to real-time sales reports during their event and can even manage their event by PC or mobile device. In addition, the platform provides vendors with product, shipping and billing information as well as detailed geographic and sales reporting.

How Fast Do Zulily Vendors Get Paid?

As a vendor, you’ll be expected to have inventory on hand or the ability to produce the inventory needed to fulfill the orders sold during your event by the time the 3-day event has ended, so that you can fulfill the purchase order right away. Because the platform must allow for returns and refunds, Zulily vendors may wait about two months — upwards of 60 days — to receive payment from the site.

Zulily vendors can receive payment the same day that they have a promise of payment from Zulily by factoring their promised payment instead of waiting 60-90 days for Zulily to forward payment. The vendor factoring process is identical to invoice factoring, in that the vendor factors the invoice with us for a low fee (as low as 4 percent of the invoice amount) and receives a same-day advance of up to 90 percent of the invoice amount – or the amount Zulily has promised to pay the vendor.

By factoring Zulily vendor payments, vendors can expedite cash flow to reinvest in growing their brand more quickly, taking on new orders and taking advantage of the momentum of new brand awareness and popularity as a result of their exposure on Zulily.

How Can Vendors Selling on Zulily Maximize their Marketing ROI?

Vendors selling on this and other third-party e-commerce sites receive a lot of added value from brand exposure on the platform, but that doesn’t mean they can’t engage in marketing activities of their own to get even more marketing ROI from their event. Vendors and manufacturers that want to maximize marketing ROI when selling on Zulily, Amazon and other e-commerce sites should:

  • Build a strong following on sites like Facebook and Pinterest which are used by the vast majority of Zulily customers to facilitate brand engagement with Zulily customers
  • Promote the event on their own social networks
  • Send an email announcement to suppliers, vendors, employees, and other stakeholders about the event, and ask these types of partners to share the event on their social networks as well
  • Publish one or more blog posts in the weeks leading up to their event, during the event and following the event highlighting successes and providing a “save the date” for future events
  • Use email newsletters to let contacts know about their Zulily vendor event
  • Publish a press release simultaneous with the beginning of the event to reach customers via news publications
  • Sponsor social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest with links to their event and products on the e-commerce platform

Vendors should also take advantage of any content areas provided on the e-commerce site to display their logo, tell their company story, speak to values and provide other marketing messages. This is the type of content that can create a personal connection with customers, so they become interested in the brand itself, follow it on social networks or even look for retail outlets where they can purchase more products from the brand.

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If you are a Zulily vendor who is interested in finding out more about how you can expedite cash flow using Zulily vendor factoring services, simply submit the form below:

e-Commerce Vendors Speed Up 3rd Party Payments by Factoring

e-Commerce Vendors Speed Up 3rd Party Payments by Factoring

Vendors that sell through Zulily, Amazon and other third party ecommerce sites may find themselves waiting 60-90 days for payment. Factoring speeds up cash flow by eliminating the wait on customer payments.

Invoice Factoring Speeds Up Payments for Zulily and Amazon Vendors

In 2016, Zulily announced that payment terms to vendors were being extended. Instead of net 30 terms, vendors selling through the ecommerce site now wait 60 days or even longer to get paid. For some vendors, waiting eight weeks (or even longer) from the time an invoice is issued or payment is accrued is a minor inconvenience; for others, it could be mission critical. When money is tied up in receivables and earned ecommerce payments and commissions, vendors may miss out on other opportunities to grow.

This is what’s known as “opportunity cost.” In other words, when a business decision to work with a 3rd party e-commerce platform like Zulily or Amazon means that a vendor must wait for payment before taking on other customers or bigger orders, this is the opportunity cost of that business choice. Factoring speeds up cash flow.  Invoice factoring is a financial tool that gives Zulily and Amazon vendors immediate access to the money owed to them by these e-commerce platforms (and other customers).

When a vendor factors a future payment or a customer invoice with Corsa Finance, they can receive a large percentage (as high as 80-93%) of the amount owed to them on the same day a customer invoice or e-commerce sales report is generated.  With low factoring fees, vendors that use factoring to reinvest in growth more quickly have the ability to generate more sales and also free up working capital to meet operating expenses and take advantage of supplier quick-pay discounts.

For Zulily and Amazon vendors, when factoring speeds up cash flow it could fast-track growth.

As a vendor, if you cannot replenish the inventory of raw materials needed to meet sales projects for future months because you must wait 60-90 days for an e-commerce platform payment to arrive, you could see sales slow or even stall. By ensuring that your cash flow is keeping pace with operating costs like inventory and payroll, you give your business the ability to increase production and maintain growth momentum.

Factoring is an ideal supply chain finance tool in that it allows manufacturers, distributors and other vendors the ability to leverage working capital that is technically on the books as an asset but would not be otherwise available to use.

Factoring speeds up cash flow, giving vendors immediate access to payments owed by customers, including third party e-commerce sites like Amazon, Zulily and similar platforms. Vendors who factor invoices can reinvest in their organizations more quickly and focus on growing their businesses instead of waiting on payments or chasing down customer invoices. Factoring even helps reduce organizational overhead by reducing the time and money that must be spent on accounts receivable activities.

We would be happy to provide you with more information about invoice factoring and how it can help Zulily and Amazon vendors speed up the payment cycle by eliminating the time between e-commerce sales and third party payments.

Request a free, no-obligation quote for financing by applying online and get answers to your questions in 24-48 hours, or even faster.