Monday, June 12, 2017

The SAM Registration Renewal Scam

If you are a government contractor, odds are you have to register with SAMS to get paid.   You can do this yourself at no cost.  So why do you keep getting e-mails from people who say they want to help you?

It is that time of year again.  Even though my SAMS registration doesn't expire until late August, I am getting e-mails every day exhorting me to call or log on to a site to "renew" my SAMS registration.   If I don't do this, all sorts of bad things will happen!  I won't get new business!  I won't get paid!  Oh me, oh my!

What did I say before about fear?   It is not an emotion to be trusted.

What is up with these e-mails?   Well, for starters, even though they sound like they come from official government websites, they are not.   Any business relationship entered into based on a lie, no matter how trivial, will go downhill from there.  And the "lie" here is that these companies are somehow related Uncle Sam, when they are not.

What are they after?  Your money.  Duh.

They want one of two things:
1.  They want to "help" you renew your registration online for a fee, which is unnecessary as you can go to the SAMS site and renew your registration by yourself, for free.  Yes, it is a cumbersome site, and has page after page of crap you have to tabulate through and re-confirm that, unlike Trump, you have no connection to Russia or other foreign governments.   Gee, maybe he should have to register through SAMS, eh?   So this first kind of con is just asking you to pay a few hundred dollars to do something you can do yourself for free.

2.  They want to steal your government contract money.   They hope that some low-level clerk in your company was designated as contact point for the SAMS registration and that they can scare said clerk in to coughing up the username and password for the account by fooling them into believing they are logging in or talking to, a government agency.   Once they have this information, they can go online and "renew" your registration and change your banking information for ACH credit payment.   That $50,000 contract payment you got from the U.S. Department of Redundancy Department is now going to an offshore Cayman Islands account and no, the government isn't going to pay it again.   Your fault for giving out the password and user name.  You are out fifty grand!
How do they get your contact information?  From the SAMS site.  It seems that even if you click on "do not publish my information" your e-mail address and other data gets published or is accessible to the public anyway.
So how to you prevent this sort of fraud?   Like anything else, it requires vigilance and paying attention.  Docket your SAMS renewal date and make sure to renew it yourself.   Don't put some low-level clerk or secretary as contact point for this important information - or any other kind of responsibility involving money, for that matter.   Train your staff to be skeptical about anyone contacting the company and asking for any kind of information or payments.   Many a firm has been ripped-off when a low-level clerk sends a wire transfer or other payment for a specious invoice or based on a phone call supposedly from a senior partner or other higher-up in the company.

It is interesting that many scams today don't target just the poor or elderly, but rather target small companies, law firms, and the like.   They know that such companies are often haphazardly run, and that many small businessmen are "too busy" to deal with details like, well you know, the money.   So they hire a clerk to balance the books or ask their secretary to keep track of these things.   The problem is, often a small business or law firm finds out after 20 years of hard work, Suzie retires and it turns out she was embezzling the entire time she worked there.  Never put all those eggs in that one basket.

And even if Suzie is honest and not tempted by handling all of your money (most of which you owe to other people, but she doesn't get that) she may be bamboozled or tricked into giving it away or giving away information that allows others access to your accounts.   Yes, keeping track of things is a "hassle" for a small businessman.   But failing to keep track of things can result in enormous losses over time, or even a one-time huge loss.

Pay attention.  Because no one else is going to do it for you.

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UPDATE:  Here is an example of one of these e-mails I get.  I have gotten over 100 in the last few months, from all sorts of different companies.  THIS IS AN E-MAIL FROM A SCAM COMPANY THAT WANTS TO CHARGE YOU $$$ TO DO SOMETHING YOU CAN DO FOR FREE!!

This email was sent by an automated administrator. Please do not reply to this message.


This is a message regarding your registration in the U.S. Federal Government's System for Award Management (SAM) for BELL, ROBERT P which is expiring 8/25/2017. It is almost time to update your annual registration.

Failure to update and complete the registration process, may interfere with your government funding and awards because your SAM registration must be active, complete and compliant for any federal awards, funding, or assistance to be paid. Per SAM policy, incomplete registrations may be placed into DELETED INFORMATION STATUS within the system.

To begin the updating process, select the link below and follow the instructions. A Registration Advisor will be in contact within 24 business hours to complete your SAM Registration Service submission.


Please have your CAGE CODE ready.

Copyright 2016, All rights reserved.

(Ha-ha - government communications are not copyrighted!  Gave way the game, my friend!)

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UPDATE:  Here is an example of the only LEGITIMATE renewal notice from the SAMS website:

This email was sent by an automated administrator from the official U.S. government website. Please do not reply to this message.

SUBJECT: Your Registration for  [BELL, ROBERT P] will expire on August 25, 2017.

Dear Robert Bell,

Your entity registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) will expire soon. To be eligible for federal awards, you must have an active SAM registration. It is your responsibility to keep your registration current. If you have existing awards with the government, you must renew your SAM registration annually to ensure continued payments is an official website of the U.S. government. There is NO FEE to register or maintain your SAM registration.

To update or renew your registration, follow these instructions.
1.     Go to the official website by entering in your Internet browser address bar.
2.     Enter your username and password to log into SAM.
3.     Select “Entity Registrations” on the My SAM page
4.     Select “Existing Entity Registrations” from the  “Entity Registrations”  menu.
5.     Select the entity you want to update from the Entity List, or search for the entity, then select it.
6.     Select “Update Entity” from Registration Details for Complete Record.
7.     Complete your registration update by following the on-screen instructions.
8.     Select “Submit” at the very end. You will see a “Congratulations” message on the screen when you submit your renewal.


1.     Plan ahead! U.S. registrations must go through Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) validation. All registrations must go through Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code validation. Together, these processes can take up to twelve business days after you submit your registration. While the average is much faster, allow time for these external processes and begin your renewal now.

2.     Get FREE help at on the HELP page where you will find:
- The full SAM User Guide, Quick Start Guides, Helpful Hints, and Webinars
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

3.     Check your registration status at any time. Go to the homepage at and select Check Status. Enter your DUNS Number or CAGE Code to quickly check your progress.

If you still need help after using these resources, please contact the Federal Service Desk at or by telephone at 866-606-8220 (toll free) or at 334-206-7828 (international). The Federal Service Desk is a FREE service of the U.S. government, supporting SAM and other systems owned and operated by the U.S. government.

Thank you,
The System for Award Management (SAM) Administrator