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Protecting Your Business against COVID-19

Oliver July 2020 5 min

Protecting your business against scams has always been necessary, but the coronavirus pandemic has added an extra weapon to the scammer’s arsenal. There is a big focus on online scams, and password protecting everything using a system like 1Password will go a long way towards helping.

Scams come in all shapes, sizes, and disguises. Many people now concentrate on online scams, but door-to-door, telephone, and letter scams are still there. As a business owner, you need to be vigilant for them all.

So what types of scam are there?

Types of Scam

  • Phishing Emails. These have always been around. Events like the coronavirus pandemic have always caused a surge in people clicking on the links. The emails play on people’s vulnerabilities, asking for personal information.
  • Business Email Scams. Referred to as Business Email Compromise (BEC) frauds, these are similar to phishing scams. They attempt to trick you into believing the email is from a CEO, matching the boss’s email address or giving his phone number. The BEC email is usually asking you to speed up a payment or refund, citing the current situation as the reason.
  • Medical Scams. It is a sad fact of life that scammers will use a public health crisis to scam people. Emails, phone calls, and more promoting cures and treatments that you can buy.
  • Hackers. Many companies have allowed their employees to work from home. This has made cybersecurity even more critical. Hackers may send emails, purporting to come from your IT department, asking employees to download updated software or teleconferencing software. 
  • Charity Scams. Pulling at a person’s heartstrings is a common way of scamming them. The same techniques can be used against a business, asking for charity donations from your company. Companies are keen to help the community or give to charity, so they can get caught out. Always verify the source before agreeing to donate.
  • Recorded Message Scams. Also known as robocalls, they tend to be aimed at individuals rather than businesses. The scam usually takes the form of getting you to pressing a key on your phone, which then redirects you to a high charge private number. Businesses may get caught by calls about listings on websites becoming inactive if they don’t respond or website names being lost.
  • Loan Scams. The coronavirus has caused financial hardship for many people and businesses. So when someone contacts you offering an easy loan, it can be tempting. However, once sucked in, you quickly find extortionate interest rates and eye-watering high fees for late or missed payments.

Precautions to Take Against Scams

Email Scams

  • Always check the sender addresses. They will look suspicious, containing misspellings and references to “CDC,” or the “WHO.” 
  • Check where links take you before you click them. By hovering your mouse over the link, you can see the destination address.
  • Don’t give out your personal information, such as login details, PINs, or card numbers.
  • Don’t open attachments, as these can distribute malware.

Business Email Compromise fraud

  • Always double-check the sender’s address. The scam often works because the email address is almost identical to what you expect, except for a single misspelling.
  • Contact your bank. If the email contains bank information that a third-party should not have, there could be a serious issue.
  • Check the information. If the email looks genuine, but the urgency is suspicious, contact the client using the contact details you have on file.

Medical Scams

  • These are easy to deal with. Don’t click any links or reply. Verify the claims with your national medical authorities if possible.

Hackers

  • Improve your anti-virus protection
  • Added security tools
  • Two-step verification
  • Password security, such as OnePassword

Charity Scams

  • Research the charity online and contact them

Recorded Message Scams

  • Hang up. Don’t speak or press any keys on the phone’s keypad.

Loan Scams

  • If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The offer of a quick and easy loan, just sign one piece of paper, is a sure sign of a scam. Check the lender online. Ask for the interest rate, and check all the fees payable.
  • If you need a loan to get through coronavirus, then many governments have schemes. Alternatively, go directly to your bank.

Cyber Security

Scammers are often after information so that they can then target your data and systems. Login details, pieces of banking information and personal details collected over time can give hackers access to your data. 

Investing in malware and anti-virus software is the first step. These will protect your systems continuously, alerting you to any kind of attack.

Additional protection is offered by password managers such as OnePassword. These not only create powerful passwords automatically, but they also allow you to control your team’s passwords. Should a system password be compromised, you can easily change the whole team’s passwords and keep working.

Protecting Yourself from Scammers

Be proactive, and put protections in place before the scammers target you. 

There are several ways of spotting scams;

  • Something that sounds too good to be true usually is. Check all the details carefully.
  • Conduct a review of your business to identify areas vulnerable to fraud
  • Know your business inside out. This is particularly important for your finances. 
  • Control how money leaves your business and put checks in place.
  • Use two-step verification for logins to all your systems.
  • Have an action plan in case something goes wrong.
  • Know how to contact your bank and card providers in case of a fraudulent transaction.

Summing up …

Scammers are continually finding new ways to get money or information from people or businesses fraudulently. Being proactive, investing in online security systems such as OnePassword, and having action plans in place can all help.

If you or your business becomes the victim of fraud, then report it immediately.

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