It’s not enough apparently that many small business owners are struggling just to stay afloat during this unprecedented time; now it also seems like an increasing number of scammers are emerging to try and prey on the fears and worries of entrepreneurs. Why are they targeting small businesses across the country…because they understand how eager such business owners are to try and prop up their otherwise sinking companies. And they are sadly looking to manipulate the situation and thus profit from it.
The FTC is trying to warn business owners regarding exactly what some of these scams entail so that they are better prepared to recognize them and thereby not be made victims. One of the more common characteristics of these emergent scams is the fact that as more and more people are working from home, cybersecurity for many companies is becoming something of an issue. Below are seven scams that the FTC is currently warning businesses about.
Scams Related to Public Health
Public health issues are currently at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Business owners want to ensure the health of their employees and their customers moving forward. Many scammers, understanding this, have since started sending out emails from the likes of various public health offices, for example, the CDC. In the emails, they demand social security and/or tax ID numbers. Some also provide a link that you must click on for pertinent information. And some are even including a downloadable document, which when opened will instantly install malware on your system. If you do not recognize a link or email address, or if you aren’t 100% sure that a link is trustworthy, do not click on it or download anything. If you want to double-check, you can call the organization directly and verify that they did send such an email.
Fraud involving Government Checks
As there currently are several federal, state, and local programs providing aid to smaller businesses in this critical time, it’s no wonder that a common theme related to many popular scams does involve government-issued checks. The typical pitch is that to get your money from the government you first need to pay a processing fee of some sort. Some might also ask for identifying information and of course in this way they can hack into accounts and consequently steal your money. No government-backed program will ask you for a payment over the phone. This is most definitely a scam. Do not provide any sensitive or private information during a phone call of this nature.
The Internal Email Scams
As there are so many working from home, it is not as easy to verify requests that could otherwise be reviewed within an office setting. That said, many scammers are sending out emails that appear as though they were generated internally from saying the CEO, requesting that an off-site employee transfer funds to a specific account. If you do receive such an email and it doesn’t seem like something you would normally be instructed to do, then odds are, it is a fake. Contact the person from whom the email is supposed to be direct to make sure the request was a valid one.
Scams involving IT
A variation on the internal email scam, this one appears as if the email is from IT staffer. Almost always, they are asking for information regarding usernames and passwords for company accounts. For instance, they might say they’re calling on behalf of a manager regarding computer problems you might be having. Again, verify first with someone who you know is with the company before giving out any password information.
Scams over Office Supplies
As we all know there are some items which right now are more difficult to get. And with people panic buying, scammers are finding ways to take advantage of the situation. Small businesses are increasingly targeted because people know that they have fewer resources and less access to the products needed than say large corporations. Don’t just randomly send money out even if you are desperate for certain supplies. Do your due diligence first.
Prestige Award Scams
Businesses are of course having a rough go of it and so what could be better than a little morale boost by way of some prestigious award. Scammers are sending out letters and emails to this effect. They are then asking the business owner to pay for the cost of the award itself promising a variety of images and marketing material that can be used on the website of the awarded company. This one should be fairly easy to see through and to research in terms of legitimacy. You should never be asked to pay for any award you receive.
The Robocall Scam
The best thing to do if you get a robocall is to just hang up the phone. According to the FTC, if a robocall is trying to sell you something it is illegal unless they get your permission first. So if you did not give written consent to receive robocalls in terms of any type of selling, then it is illegal, and in many cases, it is also trying to scam you.
At First Union Lending, we do not want to see small businesses suffer more than they currently are during this challenging time. And if you need additional capital to help weather this storm, we are here to help! We offer short term loans, merchant cash advances, lines of credit, to name only a few. The process is fast and flexible, and each loan product is custom-tailored—no off the shelf approach with us. We also can help you with your PPP application. There are still funds available. The deadline for filing for PPP relief money is June 30. Call today and let’s get started together!