The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty to the world of small business. Your revenue might have dipped and social distancing policies might make it difficult to run your business the way you used to.
To address some of these issues, might look into applying for an SBA 7(a) loan or consider developing a remote work policy for your employees. These could be smart moves to protect your business from the effects of the pandemic, but the rapid changes and uncertainty have also led to an uptick in scams.
Many businesses are so focused on keeping things going that they leave themselves vulnerable to scams that they would have been able to avoid under other circumstances. If you want to protect your business, you need to know about these scams and educate your employees on how to avoid them.
Email Impersonation Scams
With this scam, the criminal impersonates a person at your company. In most cases, they will use spoofing to make it look like the email is coming from someone in management. They might request an urgent payment or try to get login credentials.
Make sure your staff is aware of this type of attack. If a payment request is made through email, have people double-check the request through a confirmed communications channel. You could also tell employees to check the email address for any suspicious request instead of just trusting the name on the account.
This is similar to the email impersonation scam. A scammer will contact someone at your company and pretend to be from one of your suppliers. They will tell the employee that they need to update their payment details. If successful, you will end up paying the scammer for future invoices instead of the legitimate supplier.
Have employees double-check any time a vendor makes contact to update payment details. They can take the details down when they are on the phone with the person, but they should call the supplier on a confirmed phone number to verify the changes.
Coronavirus Info or Government Grant Scams
This scam involves impersonating a government organization. They might pretend to have updates on business reopening to get people to click on a malicious link. They might also pretend to be from a government organization that offers grants. They will say that your business is eligible for funding in order to get you to provide banking details or they might ask for a fee to process the grant application.
The best way to avoid these scams is to check the information independently. If you need the latest updates on the coronavirus, go to the CDC website. If you get an email or SMS about a grant, go the website of the organization mentioned in the communication. Whatever you do, do not click on any links, download attachments or provide sensitive information.
Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams are not new, but criminals are using the pandemic as an opportunity to get more victims. These scammers will usually pretend to work for trusted companies and they will offer support for computers. What they are really trying to do is gain remote access to the device so they can steal valuable information.
To avoid this scam, you just need to be a little skeptical. A legit tech support company is not going to cold call you. You should also be wary of pop-ups that say you have viruses on your computer. A real tech support company won’t ask you to call a phone number.
This is happening a lot with pandemic related supplies. Scammers know that some businesses suddenly have a need for things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, gloves and masks. They’ll take advantage of this need by creating bogus websites or social media pages offering supplies at discounted prices. The problem is that they just take the payments and never ship the supplies.
To avoid this, make sure you only deal with suppliers you can trust. If you are going to deal with a new supplier, research the company. If they don’t have much of a history, you should think twice before making a large purchase.
The best way to protect your company form most scams is to be aware of them. Once you know they are out there, they are usually easy to spot.