Attempted fraud and scams of organizations continue to rise. Protecting yourself and your organization from fraudsters can save you thousands or even millions of dollars. Scammers’ tactics have become increasingly sophisticated, including manipulation of email, websites and caller IDs to appear legitimate.
We recommend you educate employees on how to help protect the organization and themselves from scams. These 5 simple steps are a good start.
Go with your gut.
If an email, phone message, or online interaction doesn’t seem quite right, there is a good chance it isn’t. Investigate before going any further. Signs of scams may include:
- Requests for financial information (such as bank account information)
- A lack of personalization (e.g., the scammer does not give a company name or know your name/account information)
- Mention of a transaction or other activity you do not recall
- Time pressure to respond
Any of these signs or a bad feeling about the contact is a good reason to double-check the message’s credibility, in ways such as contacting the organization directly to verify whether it tried to reach you.
Exercise extreme caution when divulging sensitive information.
Reputable businesses won’t ask for financial information by email or request that you call an unfamiliar phone number to update your account information. Ensure that your online transactions are always made through legitimate, secure Internet connections. Never enter sensitive information into pop-up windows.
Also, as mentioned in a previous tax alert, remember that the IRS does not ask for debit/credit card information over the phone, nor does it force consumers to pay monies owed by a specific payment type. If you owe taxes, the IRS will mail you directly.
If a suspicious email or social media message contains a hyperlink or attachment, DO NOT click on or open it. It may sound like common-sense advice, but some of the most damaging cyberattacks have started with an unsuspecting employee clicking on a bad hyperlink in an email. It’s better to remain cautious and forward the email to your IT professional.
Pay attention to notices about scamming attempts or data breaches in the news or from other community businesspeople. Along the same lines, let others know when you have encountered a scamming attempt so that they, too, may remain aware.
Protect your computer.
Make sure that your computers and servers have the appropriate firewalls, anti-virus software, anti-spyware, and spam-filters to reduce your risk.