If you are already in the Nigerian exportation industry or conversant with the happenings therein, then it’s no news that people get scammed and ripped off of their hard earned money sometimes.
You advertise your export products on the internet, a supposed manufacturer or agent contacts you showing interest in your goods, you enter into a contract with them and fulfill your own end of the bargain but when it’s time for them to fulfill theirs, they disappear into thin air.
It’s a very terrible situation to find one’s self in. Some of the scammers are even so organized that they provide you with a letter of credit only for you to find out at the end of the day that it was all a fluke.
As a new or regular exporter, it is important to find out ways of protecting yourself and your business from fraudulent overseas buyers. This article would teach you 10 tips to avoid being scammed when exporting from Nigeria and even other countries.
Exporting from Nigeria – 10 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed
1. Do a Background Check
Don’t get too excited when you get a sales offer. You must first take time to do a background check on the company and find out whether it’s a legit company or not. You can ask for help from the embassy where the buyers company is based in.
For instance, if it’s a Chinese company, the Chinese embassy in Nigeria should be able to confirm whether or not the company is legitimate. If it’s an individual buyer and not a company, the embassy can also help you investigate the person through the country’s citizen’s database. You can also conduct a background check through internet search engines.
2. Check the Company’s Website
Almost every company has a website these days especially if it’s a large company hence, you can ask for the company’s website to confirm some of the details about the company that you have already been given.
Some small companies may not have a website but they would at least have a registered office, phone number and a business license. You should ask for this information from them and investigate to know whether it’s a company that is licensed to do business in the said country.
3. Watch Out for the E-mail Address
When you see e-mails from personal addresses, you should be very careful with dealing with such people. A serious company would have a business website e-mail address that would be used in contacting suppliers; when you get supposed company e-mails from personal e-mail addresses like @yahoo.com or @hotmail.com; your scam alert should be very high at this point.
To find out if an e-mail address is from a company webmail or a personal address, copy the letters after the ‘@’ sign and use your search engine to find out.
4. Use an agent
There are a lot of companies that provide agency services to exporters. They would help you arrange a meeting with the buyer and investigate the business to determine if it is a legitimate business or otherwise. Although this might raise the cost of your business a little bit, you would wish you had taken that step if you fall into a scam trap.
You may also use family members or friends that stay in the country the buyer is from or if you can afford it, arrange a trip to the said country to see things for yourself. This is something you should really consider especially if it’s a large order.
5. Investigate Scam Reports
If it’s a potential scam, it’s possible that you are not the first person the buyer has tried to rip off. It’s most likely that they would have done it to a couple of people before contacting you.
This is why it would help to investigate scam reports against a company or person you are planning to do business with. Again, the internet would be of help; copy the company or buyers name and the word ‘scam’ and then paste it in your search engine; it would pull up any previous scam reports filed against the company in the past.
For instance, if the name of the company is ‘cupcake limited’; you would post the words ‘cupcake limited scam’ in your search engine to see if it would bring up any scam reports about the company. You can also do the same for an e-mail address or a business website.
6. Use E-mail Backtracker
You can find out the buyer’s real identity as well as his IP address using e-mail backtracker. You see, when it comes to protecting your business from scam, no step is too much to take because scammers also spare no costs or energy to pull a perfect job. Therefore, you must always bring in your ‘A’ game whenever you are considering doing business with an overseas buyer; take as many steps as is necessary to ensure that your investments are safe.
7. Ask for all the information you need
You should try to ask as many questions as you feel would be necessary to help you form an opinion. Don’t be scared to ask the buyer questions. If he has nothing to hide and represents a legitimate company, he wouldn’t have any problem giving you all the information you need.
8. Use Government Trade Sites
Trading on government established trade sites is also a good way to protect yourself because illegitimate companies and buyers know better than to bring their tricks on a government website.
9. Don’t ignore your guts
If you have a feeling that something doesn’t seem right, don’t ignore those red flags. Sometimes, we are so eager to make money that we ignore warning signs and end up blaming ourselves for doing so. If you don’t want to be in that position, you must never ignore your guts.
10. Never let down your guard
Some scammers are so organized and tricky that they would deal with you for some time and then close to end of the deal, they would try to pull some stunts; never back down or accept terms and conditions that you are unsure of because at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.
You should also ensure that you use escrow payment system so that you can always be guaranteed of getting your money or your goods back. You should also ensure that it is a good and reputable escrow payment services provider.