Protect your business from five Coronavirus scams

It’s a painful reality that some scammers are taking advantage of fear and distraction while the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is occurring. In particular, there has been an uptick in fraudsters tricking businesses and individuals by using phone numbers that look like they are coming from a trusted, legitimate source and then asking the person they’ve reached through that bogus number to provide personal information over the phone.

Please be aware that Think Bank and other reputable companies would never call any customer or non-customer unsolicited and ask them to provide personal, confidential information—such as a Think Online username and password, a social security number, or a date of birth--over the phone.

Here are five other timely tips for keeping your small business safe from Coronavirus-related scammers.
  1. "Public health" scams. Fraudsters are sending messages that claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), or other public health offices. They may ask for Social Security numbers, tax IDs, etc. Other variations direct you to click on a link or download a document. Remind your staff not to respond to messages like this – and definitely don’t download anything or click on links in unsolicited email. It’s the latest form of phishing aimed at stealing confidential data or installing malware on your network.
  2. Government check scams. You’re probably aware of state and federal programs offering financial help for businesses affected by Coronavirus. But remember that criminals read headlines about these programs, too, and use them to make their phony pitches sound more credible. If someone calls or emails you out of the blue claiming there’s money available from a government agency if you just make an up-front payment or provide some personal, confidential information, it’s a phony. Some small businesses report they’ve received unsolicited calls or email from people claiming to have an inside track to expedite financial relief. Don’t take the bait. It’s a scam.
  3. Supply scams. With many businesses scrambling for supplies, it’s wise to heed warnings about websites that mimic the look of well-known online retailers. They claim to have the essentials you need, but in reality, they’re fakes that take your “order,” grab your credit card number, and run. The safer strategy is to type in URLs you know to be genuine. And before taking a chance on an unfamiliar supplier, check them out with trusted industry colleagues.
  4. Robocall scams. While working from home, your employees are hearing a new crop of annoying – and illegal – robocalls. It’s no surprise that fraudsters who already flout the law would try to exploit people’s COVID concerns to make a buck. Some of these tele-phonies pitch bogus test kits and sanitation supplies. Others have businesses in their sights. Curious what these calls sound like? This recording targets “small business who may be affected by the Coronavirus,” warning them to “ensure your Google listing is correctly displaying. Otherwise customers may not find you online during this time.” Remind your staff that the only right response to an illegal robocall trying to sell something is to hang up.
  5. Data scams. The rest of us may be adjusting to new ways of working, but it’s business as usual for hackers. With more people telecommuting, hackers are hoping companies will drop their online defenses, making it easier to infiltrate data-rich networks. Give your staff the tools they need to maintain security when working from home.
Source: Federal Trade Commission