How to Keep Your Business Safe From Scammers?Reading Time: 4 minutes
Over time and in history, we have been faced with the challenge of dealing with fraud. We might have seen them as a petty form of cheating at home, school, workplace, or even eating places. Today, we are confronted with a more widespread form of this menace of society – internet scams.
It’s, therefore, a necessity to protect ourselves from this problem with our best bet – information. Before we start addressing the ‘how’ to prevent, let’s start with the ‘what’ questions. Take care!
What is a scammer and how to identify one?
In general, a scam is any quick-profit-money-making strategy where an individual cheats another person or group by providing them with false information either before or during a deal or an offer.
Previously, fraudsters (which is what a scammer is) would have to approach you in person with their concepts or ideas seeking for your trust. But now, everything is different. With an increasing impact of modern technologies, scammers are only a click away from your possessions. All they need to do is to set the right traps and wait for victims – new technologies make it all so more difficult to protect from them.
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According to Scamwatch, which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), there are about 9 general types of scams. Those that are targeted at businesses include:
- Attempts to gain your personal information – Identity theft (a type of fraud that involves using someone else’s identity to steal money or gain other benefits) and Phishing scams (tricking you into giving out your personal information such as your bank account numbers, passwords, and credit card numbers).
- Buying and selling scams – False billing scams (request you or your business to pay fake invoices for directory listings, advertising, domain name renewals, or office supplies that you did not order) and Online shopping scams (scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site).
- Investments – General Investment scams (involve getting you or your business to part with money on the promise of a shady financial opportunity) and Betting and sports investment scams (trying to convince you to invest in ‘foolproof’ systems and software that can ‘guarantee’ your profits on sporting events).
- Jobs & employment scams– Jobs scams (trick you into handing over your money by offering you a ‘guaranteed’ way to make fast money or a high-paying job for little effort) and Pyramid schemes (often illegal and very risky ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes that can end up costing you a lot of money if you don’t quit timely).
- Threats & extortion – Malware & ransomware (Malware tricks you into installing software that allows scammers to access your files and track what you are doing, while ransomware demands payment to ‘unlock’ your computer or files).
Recently, many businesses have become easy targets for scammers. The effects on businesses have varied with the intensity of the scams, from losing a few dollars to declaring bankruptcy. Quite a reason to wish to protect your business, isn’t it?
How to protect your business from scams?
The big question is “how do we avoid this?”. Let’s go through a few ways to keep your business safe.
- Identify signs
Patiently check the syntax of the language and suspiciously scammerish names. Most fraudsters are very bad at writing emails or letters. There are always some kind of odd capitals, misspelled words, and poor grammar, which allows to see if this person is a scammer. If you’re careful with anonymous letters or emails, you’ll soon realize that if an official-looking letter or email looks very fishy, it’s because it actually is.
If an official-looking letter or email looks very fishy, it’s because it actually is. Click To Tweet
- Use secured networks, protected by changing passwords and multi-factor authentication
When it comes to finances or business, try to avoid the use of public computers or unsecured Wi-Fi as much as possible. Secure your corporate network with a business VPN. Stick to secure and controlled access, even if your business is small (or perhaps, especially if it is). Start using different passwords for different accounts and avoid using ‘free’ password manager applications.
Mostly, unauthorized access to systems by past employees is a common security issue for business. Immediately remove their access. Engage your team in the use of multi-factor authentication, which is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism.
- Protect your business information and monitor your accounts for suspicious activity
Activate antivirus and anti-malware applications on your device and update them regularly. Keep an eye on your accounts for suspicious activity. If you notice transactions you didn’t make, contact your organization immediately to report it.
Always consider what business information you’re sharing publicly. Scammers can easily use the information you share to impersonate you and send emails to your clients requesting valuable information or money.
- Check out for more information about the person making the request
Don’t be quick to reply to emails. Send a new message to the correct email address to confirm. Don’t click on links in the letter – you could be putting your client’s information, your employee’s information, and any records you keep in jeopardy.Don’t share any details unless you’ve been able to check the person you’re dealing with whether they are who they say they are. Try using the phone number you have on file to investigate the request. With the phone number, you can use the trusted reverse phone lookup service to uncover the scammer.
- Employ Cybersecurity Experts or Train Yourself and Your Employees
Depending on the size of your company, you can choose to either employ an expert or nourish one from your employees. In either way, you’re making efforts to protect yourself. According to the Harvard Business Review, “The best cybersecurity investment you can make is better training”. This means that even with an expert, you should make provisions for up-to-date education on cybersecurity.
Our business security lies in our own hands. We make the decisions that affect the growth or decline of our businesses and one of the things we must watch carefully is dealing with scammers.
So the most important thing you can do right now for your business to be safe from scammers is taking time to reflect on this article and making some balanced decisions according to it. With these easy, yet important steps you can protect yourself, your business, and your clients from financial and data loss.
Contributor: Mark Meyer works as the content manager at Spokeo. His field of expertise includes business, marketing, and self – improvement. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and surfing.