The Covid-19 pandemic has created opportunities for many businesses, as well as for those with bad intentions. It is important for businesses to protect themselves and employees from fraudulent traps during this disruptive period. When work patterns are interrupted, it creates ideal situations for fraudsters to target businesses and the individuals who work in them.
Most Common Scams
Business Email Scams
It’s not difficult for fraudsters to mimic an email address. Especially during a pandemic, it may not raise suspicions if someone were to receive an email from their boss to wire funds to an account.
Business email scams involve emails sent to employees apparently addressed by the CEO or someone from upper-level management, with a request to transfer funds to an account. The email usually claims that it’s a matter of urgency.
Similar to the business email scam the I.T. scam also involves someone contacting an employee. This time the scammer is claiming to be from the I.T. department and they need to be given a password to access company data.
The scammer is taking advantage of a good-natured employee’s willingness to be of assistance. The compartmentalization of large organizations aids in taking advantage of the anonymity factor in this blatant fraudulent activity.
Automated phone call messages are doing their rounds during the pandemic. The calls make claims that a wide range of products and services are available for businesses. These calls are known to offer everything from Covid-19 testing kits to cleaning and sanitization supplies. With the recent discussion in the media about vaccines, it would not be a surprise if these messages started getting bolder and offering bigger promises around Coronavirus support for small businesses.
Most businesses take advantage of favorable market conditions to increase market share and hacking is no different. With more employees working from home and telecommuting, the technology-savvy fraudster easily makes their way into company data. It is important for a company to maintain data integrity during the pandemic, ensuring that external elements are unable to access the core of the business.
Tools to Reduce Work From Home Scams
Many scams rely on taking advantage of the trust and confidence of employees. It is important to train employees in how to recognize a scam, even though some advice may seem like common sense.
There should be solid rules around company communication. All employees must be made aware of what a scam may sound or look like. Data encryption and integrity are also strong considerations, as well as ensuring there are checks in place before bad decisions are made.
Reverse Lookup Tools to Check Caller or Email Sender
There are many tools that can assist in scam protection. Using a reverse email lookup tool enables users to check to whom an email address belongs. It can also verify a domain and aid in verifying the source of what may be a suspicious contact.
A phone number search will also help identify where a call came from geographically and to whom the number belongs. There are many tools that can aid in finding the source of suspicious contacts.
Online Scams Statistics and Data Breaches During COVID
In the first three months of the pandemic, the government had reports of almost 20,000 cases of fraudulent activity involving scams, at a cost of over $13 million to the unwitting victims. One company paid €1.5 million (US$1.8 million) for Coronavirus masks that never got delivered.
It is not yet known the full extent to which fraudsters have taken advantage of companies and employees with good intentions, but unfortunately, terrible scenarios can foster bad actions from members of society who wish to take advantage of others.
Important tips to share with employees to protect them:
- Be skeptical – Have employees question every deal and opportunity that they get contacted about. Train employees in email lookup skills to investigate suspicious contacts.
- Know your business – This includes ensuring that the business has a solid relationship with customers and suppliers alike.
- Identify fraud risk areas – This includes both human resource and technological perspectives. Ensure employees are trained in fraud identification and internet privacy details.
- Security – This includes protecting bank accounts and all physical and intellectual property that could be taken by fraudsters.
- Plan – Make sure that your business has risk mitigation strategies. It can be good to have a tech lockdown in place and ready to go if fraud is suspected.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created the ideal conditions for scammers to make their way into the finances of a business. By offering staff training in scam identification and ensuring your business is secure and protected, you can avoid falling victim to a costly and embarrassing activity. It is worth ensuring that businesses, and ultimately the livelihoods of employees’ are protected.
This blog is printed with permission.
About the Author: Ben Hartwig is a Web Operations Executive at InfoTracer who takes a wide view from the whole system. He authors guides on entire security posture, both physical and cyber. Enjoys sharing the best practices and does it the right way!