How to Protect Your Business from Fraud and Scams During COVID-19
Now more than ever, it’s vital to pay attention to potential fraud and scams, and to ensure your employees are well-trained. COVID has created weak points that makes it easier for scammers to infiltrate your security measures.
Some scams to be aware of:
Public health scam: A fraudster will pose as a public health official and ask for information.
- They could be seeking information such as your social security number or tax ID.
- They may ask for you to take some action, such as clicking a link to download, fill out a form, or call a number to verify information. These links may install malware on your network.
- A scammer may pose as a valid public health professional while trying to gather information from you.
This is a common one because it is completely possible that a public health official will reach out to ask for names, dates of birth, and telephone numbers of employees in case someone has contracted COVID. But it’s vital to verify the validity of this. That’s where we come in. You can always reach out to us for us to check the validity before you respond to anyone asking for employee information.
Government check scam: Be aware of anyone saying you are eligible for a special government loan or unexpected checks.
- They may walk you through a fake application over the phone to collect sensitive information.
- You may receive a fraudulent check. If the check is deposited, the bank may not realize that it is fraud for several days. What some fraudsters will do is inform you that they accidentally sent too much and need you to wire some money back to them. The bank then realizes this check is fraudulent and deducts the check amount. Not only is the check fake but you are out the money you sent to the fraudsters.
Keep in mind that any loans approved by the government will require you to do all the work; no one is going to reach out to you, so if this happens, this should be a big red flag.
CEO scam: The scammer may pose as the CEO and may ask you to wire funds or send gift card codes. They may indicate that it is not possible to get to a computer and that is why your help is needed. They most likely hacked your CEO’s social media and appear believable.
Always confirm who you are speaking with before wiring funds. Urgency and lack of information should be a red flag.
IT scam: Someone will claim they’re in the IT department and that they need passwords or need you to download software on the computer, but will actually download malware to give them the data they want.
Supplies scam: People are having trouble getting the supplies they need, or may need to order additional items as a result of COVID, so scammers will create a fake business with a fake website to get people to order from here. This gives them company information as well as your credit card information.
Check for foreign countries, changed letters in the company name or logo, an odd-looking URL or missing “s” in “https,” etc.
Data scam: COVID has forced much of our workforce to work from home, which is prime hacker territory. Data may not be safe at home and hackers can access files and data by infiltrating a data-rich network. That’s why it’s important to secure your employees’ home networks.
Note that when you plug your phone into your laptop to charge it, that’s an easy access point to your laptop and all files on it.
How to protect against these scams:
- Have a procedure in place for how and when to check the validity of potential scams as well as how to recover from scams
- Warn your employees of these specific types of scams
- Train them to look for red flags
- Look out for breaks in procedures and always verify them
- Assign an in-house point person to answer questions about potential scams
- Keep employees engaged; a distracted employee is always a good target
- Appoint an in-house source. If one of these scams potentially pops up, give employees someone to call to check in on the validity and to answer questions
- Secure home networks
- Protect your information, data, and finances
Keep your guard up, especially during this time. Don’t be afraid to double-check things that seem out of the ordinary (even if many things feel out of the ordinary). Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Taking some time now to train your employees on potential risks, how to spot them, and what to do, will help protect your company later.
Want to learn more about these scams? Watch a recent webinar led by one of our in-house HR experts on the topic. Click here for the full video.