It comes as no surprise that not everyone out there is acting in the best interest of your business. If you're the owner of any type of business, no matter how big or small, odds are someone has attempted to scam you and your company.
It's not a great feeling either, and unfortunately, scammers are getting more and more creative and their techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated.
Luckily, people are becoming more aware of scammers, and defensive technologies against them are becoming better too.
Learning how to avoid scams has never been a more important undergoing for business owners. So to help make sure that you're a step ahead of would-be scammers, here are a few of the most popular scamming techniques and how to identify them.
Hacking is what happens when a scammer attempts to gain access to personal information your company possesses. To do this, they'll use some sort of technology to break into your network.
This is the area where most scammers are progressing at a fast rate in terms of skill. That makes it all the more important to ensure that you have the proper cybersecurity strategies and practices in place that can alert you of a data breach.
Some tell-tale signs that someone is attempting to hack into your systems are:
- Files have been removed
- Pop-ups on your computer screen
- An unexpectedly large phone or internet bill
- Unable to log on to certain accounts
Phishing has been around for a while and takes the form of emails, where the sender is trying to get sensitive information from the recipient. They pose as a legitimate company, and they may try such tricks as saying that your account has been hacked and that you need to reply with password and username to gain control again.
This can be detrimental to the individual who is preyed upon, as well as the company they work for. If a scammer can successfully trick an employee, then they are well on their way to gaining more information on the company they work for.
The following are signs that someone may be phishing you:
- The emails are nosy and have suspicious requests
- Grammatical errors in the email
- Wrong or missing recipient on the email
Malware and Ransomware
If you've ever gotten a sketchy pop-up that tells you to download something...then you may have had an encounter with malware. Malware scams attempt to trick you into installing software that scammers can then use to access your files.
On the flip side, ransomware is a type of malware that may block you from accessing certain files or even your computer altogether. As the name implies, if you want to get that access back from the scammer, you'll have to pay them a certain amount of money.
Look for these signs to avoid malware and ransomware:
- An excessive amount of pop-ups and your computer is a lot slower after encountering them
- There are new icons on your desktop
- Your computer randomly starts to download software without your direction
Investment scams are different than the previous techniques listed. Instead of using technology to try and trick you or access your files, investment scams may occur when speaking with the actual scammer.
Most commonly, this will come in the form of a cold call from someone offering unsolicited advice or investments. When you receive these phone calls or emails, just hang up or don't respond.
Ways to tell if an "investment opportunity" is indeed a scam:
- You receive repeated calls or emails from someone offering an investment opportunity
- You are invited to attend a free seminar, but follow-up seminars are high in terms of cost
- The email or phone call incorporates risk-free investments or a similar promise
False billings are used to try and get you to pay for a service that you never actually signed up for. Scammers who use this tactic rely on the fact that someone who is in charge of admin duties, such as a receptionist, may not be completely up-to-date on what the company has been doing in terms of advertising or promotional initiatives.
They may call or send a letter trying to get you to pay for a fake business directory or to renew your domain name.
Signs to look for when it comes to false billing scams:
- You receive an invoice from a directory or publication you've never heard of, and they ask you to confirm an entry or advertisement
- The caller cites the government as a reason your company needs to be listed on their register
- You receive an unexpectedly high invoice for domain registration or is registered with a different company
Need Help Staying Scam Free? Call Medicus IT
At Medicus IT, we work with clients to run phishing scam simulations to determine vulnerabilities within your organization and see where your employees need additional scam-avoidance training.
For those in the medical field, we also specialize in HIPAA and will work with or provide third-party compliance consultants to conduct risk assessments for your practice. It is only through regular assessments and testing that you can ensure that you are minimizing your exposure to attack so that your electronic patient health information (ePHI) is safe and secure.
Contact us today to ensure that your business is protected from scammers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common type of scamming technique?
Phishing — which involves using fake emails — is one of the most common scamming techniques you’ll see. However, it’s important to be aware of many more types of online scams.
Who is at risk of an attempted scamming or hacking?
Any organization or person that has something worth taking is susceptible to scammers. Organizations in the healthcare industry, which not only have valuable patient data are also incredibly vulnerable due to outdated IT security.
What are some signs to look for when it comes to scamming techniques?
There are many signs to look for, including grammatical errors in emails, an excessive amount of popups on your desktop screens, missing files, and many, many more. However, you can not rely solely on looking for signs when it comes to your defense against scammers. You also need to invest in proper IT security systems and practices — such as Medicus IT.