by Nick Gromicko, CMI®, InterNACHI® and CCPIA Founder, and Kate Tarasenko
As with any industry, home and commercial property inspectors are vulnerable to Internet scams. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) receives many such complaints each year. In 2016, the IC3 received nearly 300,000 complaints, with financial losses estimated at $1.3 billion. These figures don’t include unreported crimes of this nature, but they do demonstrate the prevalence of Internet scams that target individuals and small businesses alike.
InterNACHI® members recently alerted InterNACHI's Legal Team to one type of business fraud in which the potential client asks the inspector to charge an additional sum – on top of the inspection fee – to a credit card, and then forward the excess funds to the client so he/she can take care of other pressing issues. Often, the scammer is using a stolen credit card, and the bank receiving the excess funds is located overseas. The credit card issuer will eventually charge back the amount paid, so the inspector will be out of luck. This is known as an overpayment scheme.
Here are some traits that are common to the most popular Internet scams targeting property inspectors and other small businesses:
Always use common sense when conducting business online. Remain professional in your communications, regardless of your suspicions. And if you believe a scammer is targeting you, please email InterNACHI's Legal Team at email@example.com.
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