BBB Business Tip: Train Your Employees to Spot Scams

Staff Report

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

For a small business owner, well-trained employees are a key defense against scams. If your employees can recognize social engineering attacks, spot fraudulent emails, identify fake websites, and maintain safe password practices, they are well-equipped to keep your business safe. What can you do to make sure your staff knows how to spot a scam? BBB recommends the following tips.

How to train employees to recognize a scam

  • Build awareness in your workforce. Ensure your employees understand the potential impact of scams and how they work. Help them understand what falling for a scam could cost your business.

  • Create a training program. Build a training program that fits the needs of your business. To do so, consider what scams your business is at high risk for and teach employees to recognize them. Give your staff plenty of real-life examples. Incorporate teaching methods that accommodate different learning styles. Keep your training concise, interactive, and user-friendly. Offer physical handouts employees can reference later, too, such as this brochure from the Federal Trade Commission. Set up a training schedule, stick to it, and ensure new employees receive training during onboarding.

  • If you outsource, go with a reputable company. Many small business owners use third-party fraud training companies with pre-made videos, materials, and quizzes. If you are considering purchasing a training course for your staff, ensure it comes from a company with a good business reputation. Check business ratings at and other third-party websites to ensure other business owners have found the materials helpful and the customer service satisfactory.

  • Encourage open communication and confirmation. Always encourage your workforce to speak up if they see something suspicious. Scammers often target multiple employees at a company, so if one person sounds the alarm, it could prevent others from falling victim. Train staff to slow down, think twice, and use known contact information to verify changes, payments, and other transactions. This is especially helpful for avoiding Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams.

  • Establish extra security procedures where necessary. Establish extra checks and balances for processes for paying invoices or approving expenses. This might mean making dual approval necessary for transactions over a certain dollar amount. This means you’ll have more than one set of eyes on important or unusual transactions, which decreases the likelihood of getting scammed.

  • Make it easy for your employees to report fraud and scams. Acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes can make your employees feel more comfortable reporting a scam. Consider rewarding your employees for reporting scams instead of punishing them, even if they fell for it.

  • Set a good example. Always implement the advice you give your employees personally. For example, if you forbid sending sensitive information, such as login IDs and passwords, in an email, don’t request those details from your staff by email.

  • Make training ongoing. Busy schedules and multiple distractions mean frequent reminders are necessary to help employees stay aware of scams. Consider reviewing your scam awareness training with your staff annually at the very least, and more often if possible.

  • Stay up to date on the latest scams. Review the latest scams on BBB’s news page to stay informed about what scammers are up to. If you encounter a scam that could affect your business, share it with your employees.


For more information

Learn more ways to improve your business by visiting the BBB business news feed and BizHQ. Read about scams targeting businesses on BBB's Business Scam HQSign up for BBB's weekly Scam Alert emails to learn about new, emerging scams. 

Ready to give your business reputation a boost? Apply for BBB Accreditation today.