Unfortunately, scams are a part of life, and scammers are always adopting new techniques and seizing new opportunities to prey on unsuspecting victims. The internet has made access to victims especially convenient, and there is no sign of online scams or phishing attacks lessening any time soon. On the contrary, the Federal Trade Commission says they are at an all-time high.
We want you and the business you love to be protected at all times. To that end, recognizing warning signs is the first line of defense. Let us share four new online scams, targeting entrepreneurs just like you, that you need to be aware of right now.
1. Fake COVID-19 Testing Sites. It is hard to imagine the depravity it takes to use the deadly Coronavirus pandemic as a ruse to take advantage of honest people, but it happens. Fake COVID-19 testing websites and emails, and even physical locations, are a new online scourge. Be aware that cyber criminals are data-smart, in other words they know you want to get back to work, so they may especially target you. If you want to get tested, talk to your doctor instead of clicking on a pop-up ad, suspicious website or unknown email.
2. Netflix Phishing Emails. “Phishing” is when a scammer uses fake emails, social media or messenger prompts to get you to share valuable personal information, such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. A recent Netflix email phishing scam hit 110 million subscribers, and stated, “We were unable to validate your billing information for the next billing cycle of your subscription therefore we’ll suspend your membership if we do not receive a response from you within 48 hours.” It looks legitimate, but it is 100 percent fake. Always contact a company directly if you have any questions or concerns from an email, and not from any number provided in the fraudulent communication.
3. Coronavirus Stimulus Scams. The U.S. government is sending tens of millions of eligible Americans COVID-19 related stimulus payments, and the emergency assistance is like blood in the water to predatory scammers. To protect yourself, only deal with the IRS directly as the federal tax agency is solely responsible for dispensing stimulus support. Disregard all unknown stimulus phone calls, texts, and emails as the IRS will only contact you by mail.
4. Phony Amazon or FedEx Text Messages. Not all digital scams are Nigerian prince emails promising to send buried treasure in exchange for your credit card number. Scams are constantly evolving, as evidenced by the above-mentioned frauds, and they have even moved to smart phone text messaging. One in particular involves fake delivery texts from companies like Amazon.com and FedEx. No matter what they say, never, ever respond with personal or financial information. Simply contact the company instead and, again, not from any number provided in the communication.
We know these are difficult times and you are doing the best you can to keep things moving forward in your business. Do not let a cyber criminal thwart your momentum or the company you have built. If you or someone you know has any questions about online security, or if you have been defrauded and require assistance, contact an attorney for immediate guidance. We are here to help you and answer your questions now, and any time in the future.