Protect Your Business by Identifying Scams

September 21, 2017

Your employees are one of the biggest security threats that your business faces--not because they are deliberately sabotaging your business or opening the door to threats, but because they may unintentionally become the victims of a scam. Whether you're concerned that you might be a victim yourself or you're ready to train your employees, it's important to know some of the basic ways of identifying a scam and how you can avoid them.

Signs of a Scam

These common signs will notify you of a strong scam potential--and that you should turn and run the other way. If you or your employees notice these red flags, make sure you're avoiding the company in question.

Sign #1: Money is Involved

The biggest online scams deal with money. After all, ultimately, that's what hackers are trying to get out of your company! They may ask for money to help with a problem, insist that their victims have won money, or suggest that the victim is in danger of losing their money due to a potential problem. The goal is to have them enter their financial information via a link, provide a credit card number, or otherwise compromise their financial details.

Sign #2: It Sounds Too Good to Be True

Any time an online offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is! This includes things like "free" items (especially big ticket ones), prizes from competitions that the victim doesn't remember entering, or easy ways to make money--often with little or no effort on the part of the victim. In many cases, all it takes for scammers to sneak their way in is installing software on a company computer in an effort to make easy money or claim a prize.

Sign #3: Asking for Personal Information

Scammers are always looking for personal information. They want social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers--any personal information that they can gather. Victims think that the information they're providing is harmless, but the more they offer, the better the scammer gets to know them--and the easier it is for them to steal their identity, borrow their health profile, or even gain access to their accounts.

Common Phishing Attacks

There are plenty of strategies that will allow scammers to gain access to personal information. These, however, are among the most common.

Links embedded in emails are designed to redirect individuals to the wrong website. In many cases, those links lead straight to malware--or to a site designed to mimic the one indicated in the email, where victims will enter their personal information.

Impersonating a vendor over the phone may permit scammers to obtain company information. Often, the person who answers the phone isn't even aware of the information they're giving out.

Impersonating a customer is another common tactic used by many scammers. They call in pretending to be a customer--often one that they've found via social media or online review--and then try to gain information from the company.

Protecting Your Company

In most cases, it's not possible to protect your company completely. All it takes is one employee to allow a scammer to slip through the cracks--or a really good scammer who's able to make it past your best employees. There are, however, some steps you can take to minimize the odds that your company will be hit.

Train your employees. Make sure every employee knows how to recognize signs of a scam. Repeat this training on a regular basis in order to ensure maximum understanding.

Conduct training sessions. Use sessions in which employees know they're being tested and training scenarios in which they don't. Include mock phishing scenarios to help employees learn to recognize those scenarios in the future.

Maintain awareness. Phishing attacks can happen at any time. It's never safe to assume that your company is safe--so be aware of the threats that are out there.

There will always be scammers out there who will try to target your business. By learning how to recognize scams--and teaching employees across the company to do the same--you'll discover that you're better positioned to keep your business safe. Be familiar with these common signs of a scam and know how to protect your company by working with your IT firm.

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