Sometimes new businesses joining the VoIP industry are victims of many kinds of frauds and scams planned by unethical people.
We at Pingmar have been victims to such situations more than once and we have learned a trick or two, that is why we would like to give our advice to all the new businesses and incumbent VoIP carriers, here are our top 4 tips on good practices to prevent frauds.
Run a Google background check on your new potential clients & suppliers
Reputation is everything in this industry, try to make business only with reputable (well-known companies) in the beginning and when you expand your operations to deal with less known players make sure to check their reputation before compromising your money.
There are usually two ways to check someone’s reputation on internet, you probably already know the easy one: Just Google their name adding the fraud word to see if anything turns out but beware of the fake denounces!
Some unprofessional VoIP companies sometimes hire specialized people to start public relationship wars to blackmail their customers under the threat of defaming their victims if they do not accept unreasonable disputes (sadly Pingmar has been a victim of this).
You must be careful when you find fraud allegations against one of your new business partners. Always Make sure that the website denouncing the fraud is more community driven instead of controlled by one or two guys or you may lose a good business opportunity.
So all in all how do you know if the fraud denounce site is community driven instead of a weapon for PR wars?
It’s easy: If the site has the structure of a forum and you can post your denounces then it is community driven but if the site is just a plain navigation website or a blog where the owner controls all the content and the audience cannot post a denounce for free then it is a Public Relations war website and you should just ignore it.
Check their trade references
Back to the background check there is another way to do it: Ask your new potential partner to give you his trade references and when you have their contact information just send them an email asking questions like “how long have you been doing business with X?” or “has X ever been late on payment?”.
If one or two of his trade references are reputable companies and they give you a positive reply then it is quite likely that you are dealing with a trustworthy company but if his trade references never reply or seem fraudulent when you search for them in Google then you may want to avoid this deal.
Please note that sometimes trade references take time to reply so if you don’t get a quick reply do not discard this trade reference, just send another email or try to call directly, if you cannot get a reply from any of the trade references after 1 or 2 weeks then you should worry.
Make business face to face when possible
Usually the fraud companies avoid attending conferences for obvious reasons so going to events like GCCM or ACC is a good way to make sure that your partners can be trusted.
We know, it may be expensive (air fares, hotel, conference registration) but think of it like an investment: You are investing in a great way to do safe business and you can learn a thing or two about the industry trends and technologies.
We absolutely recommend attending the bigger conferences such as ITW and if you go don’t forget to bring pre-written agreements and business cards.
Use safe payment terms
Even if your brand new business partner seems trustworthy you’re always at risk of losing money and you may want to control this risk whether they are a fake company very good at looking professional or it is a legitimate company that may undergo financial problems without anyone noticing.
You may be using prepaid or postpaid terms (we use both but mostly postpaid due to our size) but if the reputation of your new partner is still fuzzy we recommend that you begin with small transactions/credit and short-term payment circles (like 7/3) and as time passes on and trust builds you may progress to bigger amounts of money in your transactions with a particular client or supplier.
If the new business is a fraudulent person then you will lose some money but at least you will not lose much and your business will survive, usually fraud companies do not sustain long-term business because since they work like pyramid scams eventually someone doesn’t get paid and the word goes out in the VoIP community so make sure that your background check is not just something you do in the beginning and then forget about it.
Keep checking the denouncing fraud communities, the VoIP forums and the LinkedIn discussion groups in case a fake company gets under your radar.
All in all fraud in this industry seems unavoidable for small and mid size businesses but you can control it, you can dodge most of the bullets and survive the few that hit you if you stay alert and act fast and smart.
If you have any additional recommendations please feel free to share them in the comments section!