BBB Scam Tracker reports 255 COVID-19 related scam inquiries with just under $30,000 in reported losses from Jan. 1 to April 7. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also verified the following fraudulent scams to be the culprit of the increased statistics:
• Emails impersonating the president/CEO of a company to collect funds and other payment-related information.
• Emails taking on the persona of IT personnel within the organization to collect passwords, grant computer access, and download harmful software.
• Deceitful messages portraying the identity of public health administrations, attempting to collect social security numbers and providing malicious links to download “important” documents pertaining to COVID-19.
• Calls and emails that claim to provide an immediate disbursement of the government stimulus check funds once a fee is collected.
• Fake supply companies sending offers of necessities. Once payment is collected, the purchaser never receives an order.
• Phony Small Business Administration grant and loan opportunities to collect confidential business data.
What to do when approached for information?
BBB promotes research before sharing and permitting access to personal and business information. Find the verified URL in a search engine and utilize the number listed on the website to speak to a representative regarding the requests received. Remind employees to validate with management and follow IT guidelines before proceeding with sending any sensitive information.
How to identify a phishing email?
Unfortunately, phishing emails are becoming more elaborate and difficult to identify. Fraudulent activity can be detected by assessing the following email characteristics:
• Generic greetings: Emails that do not address you personally.
• Link to a fake website: Hover over the link provided in the email to see if it’s an identifiable web address. Do not click, copy or paste the link into the search bar.
• Poorly written: Spelling, grammatical errors, and distorted text.
• Unofficial Sender Email: The sender address will not match the official company name or may come through as an unrecognizable email service provider.
Business owners should educate their employees of their security and privacy obligations, especially when telecommuting. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a Computer Security Resources Center which can also be utilized to set up telework cybersecurity measures.
For more information regarding how BBB is supporting businesses throughout the COVID-19 crisis, visit bbb.org/coronavirus-business/ and BBB.org/Coronavirus.