As a Virtual Assistant, your contact details are going to be on display for the whole world to see, so it is very possible that you will be approached by a scammer for work to be done.
- This can take many forms but for the most part they are out to get your money, so you need to be very aware of what to look for. First of all, money exchanges are definitely OUT. By that I mean if they are seeking for you to process payments into your own bank account and then send them their share of the payments, then this is a definite ‘no, no’. Basically they’re seeking to either launder money or are give you payments that won’t be honoured. Either way you are going to end up out of pocket and possibly into court once the authorities work out that you’re involved in an illegal practice. Steer clear.
- Businesses that are seeking an office in another country. This is a difficult one because there are genuine businesses out there seeking to do exactly that. Some things that can help determine your action are:
- Do they give you a business name or only their name?
- Does their email address come from a genuine domain representing that company or are they using a free email account such as hotmail, or similar?
- Have they given a genuine address?
- Can you confirm that address matches the postcode given? There are suitable websites for doing that.
- If the money sounds too good to be true – it usually is.
- Contact the company in question and ask if the person who contacted you is a true representative of that company.
Other things you can do to help confirm validity are Google searches – if it’s a scam the name or subject heading will show up as a scam alert on the web. Contact other VAs you know – usually via forums – and ask if they have heard of that person or had a similar request? You’ll soon find out if that’s the case.
For those you still are not sure about but think might be genuine, you could always contact a government department in your country and enlist their support in determining if the client is genuine. In Australia that organisation is Austrade and there have been several occasions when I’ve contacted them for assistance and confirmation.
It’s important you protect yourself and your business so setting some procedures and practices in place are worth doing from an early stage – even if you don’t have to end up using them.