ACCC: ransomware scams lead list of small business complaints

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ACCC: ransomware scams lead list of small business complaints

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received more than 7,600 enquiries and complaints from small business in the first half of 2016, with ransomware such as Cryptolocker one of the biggest problems.

According to ACCC's report Small Business in Focus report #12, small businesses reported $1.6 million in losses from scam activities in the past six months.

The 2015 report, released in May 2016, revealed that the most significant scams affecting small businesses in 2015 included false billing, overpayment and ransomware – a trend that seems to be continuing into 2016.

"An emerging scam posing a threat to businesses is the business email compromise scam (fake CEO scam). It usually involves a fake instruction from someone pretending to be the CEO or other senior staff member, advising changes to payment arrangements for a supplier and redirecting invoice payments to the scammer," stated the report.

In order to protect small businesses, the ACCC listed some actions to be taken including updating security software, changing passwords and regularly backing up data.

Earlier this month, the agency was victim of a malware scam and had to issue a warning to alert business of the fake emails.

The ACCC deputy chairman Dr Michael Schaper said: "The number of small businesses contacting the ACCC with concerns has risen steadily over the past few years. The current review of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides a valuable opportunity for small business to speak up and ensure that their concerns are taken into account during that process.

"Concerns about changes to new credit card surcharging laws in September, and new changes to the ACL that will extend protections from unfair contract terms in business-to-business dealings in November are expected to generate significant interest from the Small Business community," said Schaper.

The ACCC has recently alerted small businesses to avoid a company that claims to find government funding for businesses. The regulator was concerned that SMEs were paying for a service that did not offer proper information and assistance.

The ACCC offers advice for small business on the new credit card surcharging laws and new Unfair Contract Term protections. The national competition agency also offers free online education programs intend to educate Australian business owners and staff.

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