While the FTC reports that robocalls are way down right now, the bad guys have found other ways to do damage to their victims during COVID-19. Over the past few weeks, there have been spikes in phishing scams and other corrupt activity, with people reportedly losing $13.44 million dollars to fraud from January 1 to April 15, 2020. Of course, the best way to make sure you don’t become a victim yourself is to know what kinds of scams are floating around so you can be on the lookout. But, how do you know what to look for? Let’s explore this topic a little further.
As the economy came to a screeching halt without much warning, small businesses across the country began to feel the pains of COVID-19. In response, fraudsters took to the opportunity to prey on vulnerable SMBs with the promises of SBA loans. The catch is, these people promise approval in exchange for a payment upfront.
Here’s what you need to know:
If you’ve already applied for an SBA loan, make sure the personally identifiable information (PII) on the email you receive corresponds exactly with your initial application. Don’t just go by the logo on the email or other characteristics that are designed to make it appear official; fraudsters are experts at designing emails (complete with logos) that look like they’re official. Most of all, make sure the application number on your initial application matches that of the email. If it doesn’t, and if the email doesn’t come from a sba.gov email, chances are, you’re being phished.
If you suspect you’re the target of an SBA loan phishing scheme, report it to the authorities.
Spikes in Phishing Emails While Employees are Working From Home
For several weeks now, many people across the country have been working from home–even if their companies previously didn’t allow their employees to work remotely. With this shift away from the traditional office space to at-home environments, the bad guys have ramped up their efforts, sending phishing scams to unsuspecting people everywhere. According to CNBC, phishing scams spiked by as much as 40% shortly after stay-at-home orders began to be enforced in March of this year.
Here’s what you need to know:
Phishing scams can come in several different forms, including:
- Appearing like they’re coming from the CEO or other C-suite executive who’s asking for confidential information
- Coming in the form of an attachment that can add malware to the computer, which allows criminals to access passwords, files, and other important information
- Emails and links that look like they’re really coming from a trusted brand, complete with logos and login fields
If you or your employees suspect you’ve received a phishing email, report it to your IT department immediately. Never click links or open attachments from untrusted sources, and if you’re unsure if the email you’ve received is legitimate, reach out to the person who supposedly sent it with a new email (don’t reply to the email in question).
Phone Scams That Seem to Come From the CDC
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a spike in scammer phone calls in which the caller says he or she is calling from the CDC. Unfortunately, technology makes it far easier for people to spoof phone numbers than ever before. Savvy scammers are specifically targeting young people and the elderly to gain information and solicit for donations to fake organizations.
Here’s what you need to know
The government will never call you and ask for your social security number, donations for any sort of agency, or personal banking information. If you receive a call requesting any of this information, you should report it to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The easiest way to avoid falling victim to this type of phishing scam is to simply not answer the phone if you receive a call from an unknown number. Remember, if the caller has something important to say, he or she will leave a voicemail. Of course, before you return any message, make sure you do your due diligence and find out if the call is legitimate. Instead of calling the number back directly, look for the number of the department that says it’s calling you, and phone that number instead.
Don’t let your company fall victim to COVID-19 phishing scams. Arm your organization with the kind of technology that can prevent fraudulent activity. Let PS LIGHTWAVE help you!
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