Scammers Target Small Businesses: Are You Prepared?

There are dozens of ways that criminals can steal your cash or, worse, your customer’s information. From faux overpayments to tried-and-true phishing schemes, dangers are everywhere. As a small business owner, you are responsible for keeping your business and clients safe from any deceitful activity. Keep reading for a quick bit of information on common schemes and steps you can take to limit the chances of your business becoming a target.

If the Damage Has Been Done

If you found this post searching for information on what to do after an attack, know that all hope is not lost. Before reaching out to your customers and creating a sense of panic, contact a digital forensics specialist such as Secure Forensics who has the necessary tools to react quickly and help you fully understand the extent of the damage. A digital forensics team is experienced in the most common forms of fraud, theft, and other illegal cyber activities that target businesses. In addition to putting an end to the issue, they may be able to restore your valuable data and help you take steps to avoid another catastrophe.

Be on the Lookout

There is an almost unlimited supply of criminals, and they continue to get more creative. However, most tend to rehash versions of well-known scams.

  • Phishing schemes. Perhaps the most common form of scam, phishing takes advantage of you and your employee’s trusting nature. Usually an email or telephone call, a phishing attempt is disguised as communication from someone you trust and may request information or access to company files.
  • Directory inclusion. Some criminals claim to represent fake industry directories and request a small fee for your company’s inclusion. Afterward, they will charge you each month for a service that does not exist.
  • Tech support. Tech support schemes, according to the Federal Trade Commission, are disguised as potential issues with your computer or software program. A faceless criminal posing as a tech support agent may request access to your computer to fix the problem, which doesn’t actually exist. They can easily infiltrate your data and swipe your passwords, credit account information, and company records.
  • Overpayment. Overpayment scams are nothing new and used to be carried out by writing a check and “accidentally” overestimating the total amount due. Today, criminals tend to use online payment processing. They request that the overpayment be refunded, and may ask for sensitive information to prove that you are a legitimate organization.

Protect Your Business

Your best defense against criminal activity is a two-part approach that involves employee education and technology. Your employees are on the front lines, actively defending against scams. TowneBank suggests implementing checks and balances such as requiring more than one signature to approve expenses. Your employees should be taught to look out for emails with blatant grammar and spelling mistakes and to avoid giving out any information over the phone or online unless via contact they initiate with a known customer, client, or business affiliate.

Technology is also helpful, and your business should have up-to-date antivirus software, automatic data backup, firewalls, and other security measures running in the background at all times. If you don’t have an IT department, there are plenty of small-business-friendly cybersecurity service providers that can get you set up to combat 21st-century attacks.

When you become a victim, time is of the essence. Contact a digital forensics company so you know the extent of the problem, and take steps, such as employee training and upping your security measures, to prevent it from happening again. As a small business, you can’t afford to let criminals affect you and your clients/customers in such a big way.

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