Key Highlights

  • Five most common tactics scammers use to compromise emails
  • Tips on how to spot scams and how to help avoid them
  • Among sources for this list are FBI, Deloitte, FTC, US SBA andGoogle Search

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More Remote Working, More Email Scamming

The more we work remotely, the more vulnerable we are to email scammers. Below is a list of the five most common tactics scammers use and how to help avoid the scams of draining your accounts and those of your co-workers:

Invoice Scam

  1. Invoice Scam

    1. Some member of your team/group receives an email appearing to be from a supplier wanting payment.
    2. Alwaysdouble check the email address from anyone wanting payment for anything.
      1. Email address could be off by a single letter for ending with a “ .net” site instead of a “.com” site.
      2. If sender is providing a new or different bank account to which to send payment, red flag the email.
    3. To help avoid invoice scammers, tell team members/workers to call (pick up the phone and call, not text or email) to verify payment request. Only use trusted phone numbers when calling Orautomate vendor payments.

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Executive Imposter Scam

  1. Executive Imposter Scam

    1. Someone or an imposter impersonating you or other top executive in the business emails business accountant requesting money transfer to a designated account
      1. Like invoice scams, double check sender’s email address to verify its authenticity.
      2. Notice if email sender provides a new bank account or address that’s different from what you have on file.
    2. Set up a verification process at your business.
      1. For example, set up a system whereby you ONLY send emails about payments if and only if copying another employee on that email.
      2. If a team member/worker receives a request for payment/account transfer without seeing a “cc,” that team member will know something’s not right.

Email Contacts Scam

  1. Email Contacts Scam

    1. This happens when your email or a team member’s email contact list is hacked. Scammers will email your contacts requesting payments.  When your contacts make that requested payment, funds go into criminal accounts, not yours.
    2. Look for any strange messages coming from your contacts and/or normally paying customers making late or no payments whatsoever
    3. Consider using automated invoices via QuickBooks®orXero®
      1. Also consider setting up automatic payment receipts.

Attorney Impersonation Scams

  1. Attorney Impersonation Scams

    1. Imposters impersonating your lawyer could request personal details or transfer of funds or bank account details that is marked “urgent.”
      1. These scams often sent at the end of the business day when we’re all less defensive, tired, and wanting to stop working so we just do it, especially with that “urgent” notification.
      2. Look for spelling errors or “tone” change from other emails sent from your lawyer.
    2. Always verify the request with your lawyer BEFORE sending/transferring any funds by calling her/him. Confirm the details in the email request and the “urgency” of the notice.

Data Theft Scams

  1. Data Theft Scams

    1. Scammers always looking for Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card information, you name it. Don’t do it.
      1. Never click on any questionable, suspicious links as that “click” could activate malware that drains you data and your accounts.
      2. Establish business-wide best practices concerning cyber-security including what to do if something iffy comes up

What To Do If You/Team Member Suspect Scam of Fraud:

  1. Contact police or local FBI office.
  2. Contact your bank or financial institution if/when funds sent in error or you suspect something dubious.
  3. Notify your employees even when they’re not involved as they may have additional information.
  4. Upgrade your cyber-security protocols. SBA, FTC and FBI all offer guidelines.


Thanks to Wells Fargo Small Business Resource Center.

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