With many businesses having to rapidly move their office staff to remote work arrangements due to the COVID-19 outbreak, BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming has tips on ensuring that businesses do not become more susceptible to scams as a result.
Most business scams involve exploiting the varied ways that businesses now communicate. Emails, phone calls, text messaging, and platforms like Slack allow for instant communication but also opportunities for scammers and hackers to get into a business in order to steal money or sensitive information. Business email compromise recently highlighted in an in-depth BBB study, is a common starting point. By either spoofing or hacking the email of someone in a leadership position, scammers can potentially convince employees to wire money, deliver corporate secrets, or hand over employees’ personal information.
Two of the most common defenses against business email compromise scams were having backup methods of communication to confirm instructions and flagging suspicious requests, orders, or charges. However, both of those tactics are less effective when all employees are working remotely and forced to rely on electronic communication and when companies might be shifting vendors or making unusual purchases to stay in operation.
All employees need to be trained on scams that target businesses so they can recognize potential frauds and have good routines and habits about confirming instructions, especially those involving payment and release of sensitive information. That training should emphasize maintaining vigilance and following policies despite working remotely. Just because it might take longer to get someone on the phone to confirm instructions doesn’t mean employees should skip those steps.
Managers and other leaders also need to review and update policies in light of new work arrangements to ensure they still work to protect the company from scams. A policy that relies on face-to-face interaction needs to be updated. Workers might be away from office lines so they should have a roster of cell phone numbers to call back and verify a request. Extra authorization steps might also be necessary before using a new vendor and then confirming that company and their payment information as a trusted vendor.
For more information on business email compromise, often the starting point for scams that target small businesses, BBB released a comprehensive study last year which is available here. BBB also has an in-depth look at all the scams targeting small businesses here.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Profiles on nearly 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming, which was founded in 1983 and serves 38 counties in Colorado and Wyoming.