Scammers are using new tactics to try and take advantage of people and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these scams are happening over the phone, email, text, and social media and target your money and identity.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Arkansas and the Better Business Bureau Education Foundation recently held an online webinar titled “Scamdemic.” It highlighted some of these latest tactics, targeting your money and identity. You can find a complete recording of this webinar on YouTube.
Here are some of the scams the BBB says are commonly targeting small businesses:
Business Email Compromise
This scam targets the people who pay the bills in businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. According to the FBI, it has resulted in more businesses losses than any other type of scam. Scammers typically pose as vendors or fellow employees and ask employees to wire money, send gift cards, or share personal information.
In other cases, scammers will send fake invoices for office supplies, websites, domain hosting services, or antivirus software. Make sure to scrutinize any invoices. If something feels off, do more research.
These scams attempt to steal sensitive information about your business, often through email or text. Sometimes links will either download a virus or ask you to fill out a form that contains sensitive details. Be suspicious of any unsolicited messages and be wary of any links you click. Hover over the address to ensure it’s going to where it appears. Make sure your computer has a proper firewall and antivirus software.
In this scam, a person sends you a check for more than the amount they supposedly owe you and ask you to send the remainder back to them. However, the check eventually bounces, or they recall it. You end up on the hook for what you wired the scammer. Always be leery when someone sends you money when you are not expecting it or when they overpay and ask you to send back the remainder.
These scams involve fake job descriptions and fake job offers. They often spoof legitimate companies to make themselves look authentic. One thing to look out for is if the job description is very vague. Usually, there is something a little off with it the message. Look for capitalization errors or missing commas. If they are foreign, there may be misspellings or bad grammar.
There might not be contact information, or their letterhead might be vague. Scammers may invite you to do a video conference where they can see you, and you can not see them. Like a business expansion. Do a deeper search and if things don’t add up, be cautious.
Knowledge is Power
The BBB interviewed two former scammers who revealed some useful information about how they operate. They left 50,000 recorded messages per day. They often used fake badge numbers, official-sounding acronyms, and knowledge about home addresses they found online to scare people.
However, they also found that 49% of those who did not engage with a scam knew scammer methods beforehand. You can learn more about how to spot scams and tactics at bbb.org/scamtips.
Where to Find Legitimacy of an Offer or Business
If you’re not sure whether an offer or a business is legitimate, you can also find helpful information at the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
For financial or investment scams, you can check if a broker is legitimate at Finra.org.
You can also call the FINRA Securities Helpline at 844-574-3577.
Finally, you can search and share scams you encounter at BBB’s Scam Tracker.
The BBB says it also offers training for staff and employees in small groups. They also recommend that businesses protect their online assets by investing in cybersecurity.
The Better Business Bureau Education Foundation is the 501c3 organization of the Better Business Bureau Serving Arkansas. Please feel free to contact them for more information on these topics. You can also sign up for their newsletter and scam alerts to stay informed or follow them on social media.
Farris Insurance Can Help
We have more information available on keeping your business safe from online scams.
We can also help you with Cyber Insurance in a cyber attack or security breach.