04 Aug State Fighting Back Against Merchant Service Scammers
Washington state has filed a complaint against Merchant Services Direct, a Spokane, WA-based merchant service company for alleged scams against business owners. The scam included many unsavory techniques that are unfortunately all too common in the industry. They include:
– Posing as the business owners’ current service provider
– Posing as an employee of Visa or MasterCard when they are not
– Setting up a new account which was presented as a simple update to the existing account
– Lies about services fee – which merchant would discover only after account was established
– Manipulations of contracts to hide information
– Add on of fees randomly after account was established
This company has now changed it’s name to Syphra Inc., but as Merchant Services Direct they had an “F” rating with the BBB, with 76 complaints in the last 3 years and 27 in the last 12 months.
This is a cautionary tale for small business owners everywhere, not just for those who fell prey to MSD’s techniques. Unfortunately these techniques are used by dozens of other companies trying to take your business. The main take-away from from this latest episode of merchant service scamming is as follows:
– If a company calls you representing themselves only as “Merchant Services,” be very wary. They do that in the hopes of sounding familiar and yet not specific to have to state the name of your actual processor
– Never offer up sensitive business information until you have established that the caller truly is your merchant service provider or processor
– Merchant service providers and processors rarely will contact you solely by phone for important changes to your account – there will more often than not be an accompanying letter or other documentation
– If you are an AdvoCharge customer, do not hesitate to contact us to investigate a call like this on your behalf. We will be able to contact the correct resources at your processor to either confirm or deny the message you received over the phone
Just as with your own personal information, be very cautious with any phone caller requesting sensitive information. The scammers are getting very sophisticated in their deception so you need to be all the more guarded.