We’ve all looked forward to a future that entailed teleworking in the comfort of our own homes or beloved coffee shop. That day has finally come, albeit under less-than-favorable circumstances. Now, more than ever, ad agencies are more exposed to scams. You probably wouldn’t ignore an email from your boss or client, and scammers know this. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) found that business emails comprise scams have surged in frequency, costing businesses and other organizations over $3 billion since 2016.
Gone are the days that standard scam preventions are effective now that in-person communication is less common. While agencies frequently meet face-to-face online, there is still a large part of daily business that isn’t conducted in person. We’re here to help you instantly detect and avoid being victimized with strategies and advice from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Assess Vulnerabilities: BBB’s Business Email Compromised study outlines several ways businesses were victimized during “normal” times. Today, the work-from-home environment doesn’t allow for in-person confirmations for emails, texts, or other similar requests involving financials or wire transfers. Despite most email services having advanced their spam filters, phishing email attacks will undoubtedly increase and expose millions to additional risks. Though it might be obvious to any tech-savvy user, identifying a scammer may not be as easy for your employees or employer. You can save your coworkers and agency the headache by educating them on the risks and effective countermeasures and enforcing policies that verify any requests for financial information or transfers.
Staff Training: Agencies that don’t already have a security training program in place should ramp up efforts now. It only takes one successful phishing attack to compromise a company’s network or potentially steal millions of dollars. (Pssst, BBBs State of Cyber Security is an excellent source, and it’s free!)
HR Scams on the Rise: The FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) has noted increased complaints regarding Human Resource Department scams. This dates back to 2015 when University Payroll Departments were targeted.
This has since evolved to HR Departments receiving calls or emails from a current employee asking to update their direct deposit or mailing information to receive paychecks. In reality, the request isn’t genuine, and the employee’s paycheck has just been stolen.
While we could all do with less multi-factor verification for logins (looking at you, captcha user-verification tests), the BBB urges businesses to implement a two-tiered verification process to avoid this. Google data has proven two-step authentication works, with secondary SMS codes blocking 100 percent of automated attacks, 96 percent of bulk phishing attacks, and 76 percent of direct targeting attacks. Other ways to accomplish this is by asking the employer or employee to call or email you back with the number or email listed with the business to verify that the request was legitimate.
Disruptions Due to Covid-19: The pandemic has impacted nearly every business, whether negative or positive. To avoid any hiccups, it’s imperative to manage client expectations in the “new normal” by clearly communicating any constraints, concerns, or issues that may arise.
Accusations of Price Gouging: We’ve all seen it, from increased prices in meat or produce due to supply chain delays. BBB urges businesses to explain the supplemented charges clearly. Take a note from Pluckers Wing Bar – the recent wing shortage has resulted in a $2 price increase, and the chicken wing brand has publicized this on their website and in-store through displays. Though some customers will inevitably vocalize their annoyance, consumers, for the most part, will understand that buyers and sellers all over the world are impacted by shortages and factories closing. Providing sincere communication will help to avoid accusations of price gouging and similar marketplace behaviors.
Imposter Scams: Imposter scams involve scammers stealing the name of a legitimate business and pretending to be them. These can take dozens of forms, but many involve employment scams, fake check or wire scams, mystery shopping scams, and more. The good news is, a company experiencing this can file a submission with BBB’s Scam Tracker. Based on the situation, BBB may be able to place an alert on your company’s business profile, so you are not accused of potentially fraudulent behavior.
Identity Theft: Report all suspected instances of identity theft to the FBI’s IC3 Department. While many businesses are hesitant to admit that they have been compromised, investigators cannot pursue the criminals without the necessary information.
The BBB was founded by advertisers and for advertisers. We’re happy to provide information in less-than-secure times, and we hope it will increase the security of your agencies. If you believe your agency has been compromised, don’t wait. Take quick action to ensure that further exposure is limited, and do not hesitate to ask for help. Search for thousands of vetting IT Security Companies on bbb.org/search.
Article by Jimmy Asa