The number of email scams targeting businesses are on the rise, and it’s becoming more difficult to identify which ones are trustworthy. It’s not uncommon for con artists to masquerade as a trustworthy business, gaining your trust and then stealing your personal and financial information. Most businesses lose a significant amount of money due to these scams, and it’s certainly not an impossible feat to lose a few million dollars due to a hack.
The Rise In Scamming And The Damage It Can Cause
In the past, internet scammers mainly resorted to phishing, where they would pose as a trustworthy business and ask for sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card details and social security numbers. While this type of scam can be highly lucrative, the damage it can cause is significant. If a business’ reputation gets tarnished because of a data breach, they may have trouble attracting new customers, especially if the customers learn about the breach through advertising or word of mouth.
However, with the increase in cybercrime, scammers now have new ways to steal your personal and financial information. One of the more recent schemes involves sending spam mails to your contacts, with the objective being to gain unauthorized access to your personal and financial data by convincing you to provide it.
This type of scam is known as a spear phishing attack, and it’s one of the more vicious scams because it targets vulnerable individuals who’ve already been made vulnerable by other scammers. For example, if your name is on a list belonging to a crime ring, you may receive a spear phishing email, convincing you to click a link that takes you to a fake website that appears to be connected to a reputable business, but in reality, is a criminal hiding behind the business’ identity.
These crime rings are usually very efficient at taking down websites, especially those associated with legitimate businesses, so if you think that clicking a link in an email could put your financial information or personal data at risk, then it’s best to delete it immediately, or at least warn your friends and family members about the scam.
How To Avoid Getting Scammed By Email
Although it’s not always possible to entirely prevent yourself from becoming a victim of email scam, you can take steps to minimize the risks. First and foremost, it’s essential to be suspicious of any email that contains an overt request for confidential or personal information, as these are often a sign that you’re being targeted by a scammer. If you receive any such email, it’s important not to respond to it directly – it could put your personal safety and financial information at risk. Instead, contact the business via a different means of communication, such as phone or in-person.
It’s also a good idea to research the company you’re dealing with on the internet, looking for any suspicious activities that could indicate that it’s working with, or for, a crime ring. If you learn that a business has a history of shady activity, then it’s best to avoid it. On the other hand, if you discover that a business is operating within the law, then it’s safe to work with them. Ensure that any business you’re considering dealing with is a legal entity, and that its website is legitimate – if its domain name is questionable, then it could be a sign that it’s a scam.
As for the contents of the email, apart from being suspicious of any request for confidential or personal information, you should also be wary of any email that claims to have compromising or sensitive information related to your safety, financial situation or professional reputation. To give you some peace of mind, you can always report suspicious emails to the FBI or another relevant law enforcement agency, so that they can investigate the matter and put a stop to it.
The Essential Legal and Regulatory Points To Keep In Mind
Every business, regardless of whether it’s online or offline, needs to operate legally and correctly in order to remain in good standing with regulators and authorities. In some cases, businesses can be fined or imprisoned for illegal activity, so it’s essential that they know exactly what they’re doing and keep up with the latest legal and regulatory requirements.
One of the main ways businesses obtain personal information is through direct mail marketing, where they’ll send out physical letters, seeking information such as names, birthdates, SSNs and email addresses. While some people may find this type of correspondence to be obnoxious, it’s a necessary evil in our hyperconnected world, and it can’t be avoided entirely. The important thing to keep in mind is that just because a business is sending out physical mail doesn’t mean that they’re trustworthy, and it’s your responsibility as an individual to do your homework before providing any personal or financial information to a business that you haven’t verified.
Protect Your Personal Data
Even if you think that direct mail is an innocuous practice and that you have nothing to fear from it, you’re still obliged to protect your personal data. If you’re going to provide any personal or financial information, then you have the right to be confident that it won’t be shared with individuals or organizations outside of the business. Most importantly, you have the right to know who’s going to be with whom you’re engaging, and what their motives are for wanting to talk to you.
A good way to ensure that you’re not going to be fooled by a scammer is to be very specific about what you’re willing to share and what you’re not. If they want to send you a promotional package, then you can decide whether or not to have it – but you shouldn’t have to provide any personal information in order to get the goods. The same goes for asking for someone’s personal details, such as a social security number or credit card number. In both cases, the individual is being asked for personal information for an illegitimate reason, and it’s your right to be suspicious.
If you think that providing the requested information could put you at risk, then it’s best to deny it. Legitimate businesses will never ask for personal or financial information, as this is something they can’t use effectively, and it makes them look like a scammer. In the case of a suspected scam, it’s essential that you contact the appropriate authorities, so that they can investigate the matter and put a stop to it.
Monitor Your Credit Card Activity
One of the best things that could help you sleep at night is knowing that your credit card activity is monitored and reviewed by an independent entity. While it’s not always possible to prevent all types of credit card fraud, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to see how many instances of fraudulent activity you can prevent through careful credit card monitoring. It’s important that you keep in mind, however, that the prevention of credit card fraud is a matter of both time and effort – it’s not something that you can accomplish overnight.
To that end, it’s a good idea to set up a credit card monitoring service, which will review your credit card transactions and alert you to any suspicious activity. You can also set up text messages to be sent to your phone if there’s any activity that seems out of the ordinary, such as if you make a purchase that you didn’t make before or if there’s a sudden spike in your spending. This information could be very useful in identifying credit card fraudsters, so it’s worth the effort to set up a service that will monitor your credit card activity.
Be Careful Of What You Post On Social Media
If you’re going to be posting anything about your business on social media, then be careful to post authentic content that won’t put your business at risk of being prosecuted or in violation of the law. It’s a good idea to create a Twitter account specifically for your business, rather than using your personal account – this way, you can post both personal and professional content, and be certain that your personal safety is never at risk. If you think that any of your content on social media could be used against you in some way, or if you post something that could be deemed illegal, then it’s best to remove it immediately. In doing so, you’re ensuring that no one is going to misinterpret your actions and assume that you’ve committed a crime when you’ve done nothing of the sort.
As for the content that you post, it’s a good idea to remove anything that’s in violation of the law or puts your business or personal safety at risk. This is especially important if you have young children who are potentially viewing your content. In the case of a Twitter Account being used for commercial purposes, the platform can and will suspend your account, preventing you from tweeting again. Therefore, it’s essential that you never post anything on social media that could be used against you or your business, or that violates the law.