As the coronavirus continues to plague the nation, states have come up with their own versions of stay at home orders for us to follow. There have also been several small businesses that have either lost customers or have been forced to shut their doors temporarily since a lot of them don’t qualify as essential businesses. This has forced many small businesses to struggle financially, making them more desperate to find ways to either save or gain money which has made them more vulnerable to coronavirus small business scams.
Top 4 Types of Coronavirus Small Business Scams
Fake Phone Call Scams
Scammers call their victims pretending to be public health organizations, the I.T. department, a supply company, or a CEO and either talk in-person to you or use a robocall system.
Public Health Organizations: When scammers pretend to be public health organizations, they either pretend to be the CDC or WHO calling to get more information from you. They ask for SSN’s or Tax ID numbers over the phone, and sometimes even get you to go on an external website to download a “document” that is actually malware.
I.T. Department: The scammer pretends to be someone from your technology department and asks for confidential company passwords or redirects the employee to download software. Since the small businesses are struggling, employees might think that this I.T. request is legit and act upon it, downloading malware and other harmful viruses to company devices.
CEO: Scammers will call you pretending to be the CEO or a higher up office and ask to send them money since they are running low due to financial complications from the coronavirus. They will usually request that you wire them money, and when you do they’ll stop talking to you and run with your money.
Relief Check and Loans Scams
Since relief checks and loans for businesses have made headlines in newspapers, scammers know about this as well and have used this tactic to steal money from small businesses. They then call and email businesses claiming to be sending relief checks or pretending to be loan agencies, and asking businesses for their confidential information. Businesses then usually click on an external link to provide this information and end up with malware on their devices and their information stolen.
Businesses get emailed from people that claim to be customers or sellers of the businesses, CEOs, the government, etc. and get asked for their information so that they can receive help during the coronavirus. They are then asked to click on an external link, which leads them to a form to fill out said information. With this form, scammers can download malware and viruses on your businesses’ devices and can also steal their information and finances.
Data Breach Scams
Scammers are hoping that small businesses and their employees will lower their protection on their devices since they are either not working due to not being essential or are working from home. Once defenses are lowered, scammers can then hack into networks, devices, or accounts and steal vital information from businesses. They can then steal their confidential information and steal finances and other secrets from these businesses.
Supply Company Scams
Scammers pose as businesses with fake websites claiming to sell needed essentials that have been selling out due to the coronavirus. Once businesses give them their credit card number to purchase these needed essential supplies, the scammers take their money and never give the businesses what they ordered.
How to Avoid Coronavirus Small Business Scams
- Don’t click on any external links from suspicious sources. These links can give your device malware that can steal your personal information. Some of these links also include forms where scammers encourage you to enter your information. With this information, they can then steal your identity and also your funds.
- Don’t give out any of your confidential information. With this information, they can pretend to be you while applying for credit cards and accessing your bank accounts. This gives them access to steal your funds whenever they desire and use it for their own good.
- Train your employees on the dangers of coronavirus small business scams. Scammers can target fellow employees’ emails or company phone numbers and trick the employees into giving them confidential company information. This is why it is always important to come up with some rules and guidelines with your employees when discussing company information, such as don’t email or talk on the phone about it or verifying that you’re discussing the information with the right person.
- Hang up on any suspicious scam callers and block them. Replying to suspicious calls when you have a gut feeling that they aren’t who they say they are could result in giving them information that will allow them to access your bank accounts. By hanging up, the scammer will not have the information they need to access your finances and will, therefore, protect your money.
- Don’t reply to any suspicious emails. Just like with phone calls, if you reply to these emails with confidential business information then they can use this against you and steal your money. It is best just to ignore the email and report the sender so that you don’t see their messages again.
You can also reverse search anyone you believe to be a scammer with Social Catfish; we are here to help! All you need is their name, phone number, email address, username, or image and we can tell you who it is with a simple search. You can also report any small business scams to the FTC.