Connecticut state officials are warning businesses about fake invoices that claim to be from a New York City web hosting company.
The invoices claim to be from "Web Host Agents" and request urgent payment to prevent the business' website from being taken down, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.
The DCP recently received its first complaint on the issue then learned of dozens of similar complaints filed in other states.
"Unfortunately, there are scammers who try to take advantage of business owners who are simply trying to better assist their customers and communities and pay their bills in a timely manner," Commissioner Michelle Seagull said in a statement.
"Think twice before paying an unfamiliar invoice. If you have any doubts that an invoice is legitimate, don't provide payment or personal information."
Seagull advised businesses to always read the fine print of any invoice they receive.
With this scam, she said, the bottom of the invoice includes a disclaimer that "you are under no obligation to pay the amounts stated herein."
But because the invoice initially lists an amount due and includes a response date, businesses can be deceived into wrongly believing they must make the payment, she said.
Here are ways to recognize a fake invoice:
- It comes from an unfamiliar organization or business.
- The language pressures you to act quickly or face consequences. In this case, the invoice claims that failure to renew web hosting by the due date can result in "web outages" and "loss of your online identity."
- The amount of money you’re being asked to pay is atypical for the product or service listed on the invoice. A charge of $180 to host a website for a year is unusually high without details about additional services included in the cost.
If you believe you're the victim of a scam, email the DCP.
This is the latest scam to target Connecticut businesses.
A mailing sent to businesses recently from a company calling itself CT Certificate Service claims to be a "2019 Certificate of Existence Form."
The mailing suggests it is part of the state's business registration process, claiming to be the final step for obtaining a Connecticut Certificate of Existence.
But state officials warned the mailing was not legitimate and said the company has no affiliation with the state.