The initial hype has died down, but the pandemic rages on. People are worried. So, of course, the bad guys are going to try to find ways to exploit our fears!
In this article, I will give examples of some of the scams out there as well as giving tips on what to do and how to avoid being scammed. Please be sure to share this information with anyone who might handle your company’s information, including vendors, contractors, or other outside agents. We all have to work together to keep your information secure! I would also suggest sharing this information with your friends and family, especially our elderly folks who are specifically targeted in some of the scams!
Let’s dive in.
Robocalls are the annoying calls that can look or sound legitimate but are not. We all hate them. Have you ever gotten one and were unsure if it was real? Sure you have. That’s because the scammers design them to sound as real as possible.
This is where you want to be especially thorough in regards to your elderly folks, as many don’t have email, but most of them have phones.
Here are some examples of actual calls that the FTC has compiled. Please listen to them carefully:
What are some things you noticed?
- Did you hear the robot sounding voice in the first one? Often, when scamming from non-English speakers, or heavily accented speakers, they will use text-to-speech software to sound legitimate.
- Notice that each of them uses a sense of urgency. “Do this NOW!” “Your account will be suspended!” etc. This is a known technique that encourages you to act quickly, and not think about what you are doing.
- The second one is offering fake tests for Medicare recipients. This is targeting the elderly specifically.
- Notice in each of these the name of the company is not stated. The 3rd one says that it is looking to help you with your Google listing, but it does not specifically say that it is Google. (FYI, Google will not ever call you.)
What can you do?
First of all, there are a few agencies on our side fighting these scammers. There have been lots of legal actions against the phone providers that scammers are using. There are more and more preventative measures put in place every day. But, the bad guys are always one step ahead.
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.
- Don’t press any buttons.
- Hang up! Just hang up. If you are unsure whether it is legitimate, research it, or have someone else research it for you.
- If the call is claiming to be from a specific company, log into your account to check it, or call them directly.
- Do a quick search online for that scam. If you search online using some of the specific language of the call and add the word scam, you will often find results with people telling you that this is a scam.
- Never, Never, Never, Ever give out your personal information. Not even your pet’s name. Remember pet names are often a security question!
- Talk to your phone company about blocking calls, especially on behalf of our elderly folks.
You can visit the FCC on consumer tips for blocking unwanted robocalls here: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/stop-unwanted-robocalls-and-texts
We talk a lot about email scams and phishing scams in this blog. Our clients are well-informed on this, but let’s go ahead and look at some of the scams out there specifically related to the Covid-19 situation.
- Stimulus Check Expediting. There are several scams claiming to help you expedite your government stimulus check, and some even claim to be able to increase the amount. For questions about stimulus checks, visit the IRS online here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment
- Fake Corona / Covid-19 cures. To be clear, there is no cure at this time, though there are immunizations being tested.
- Tech Support scams are offering to help you with your tech issues while working remotely. Take your time to research legitimate companies or individuals and call them directly.
- Fake Business Loan scams are out there, trying to take advantage of small businesses in dire straights. Again, do the research. A fake scam could cost you dearly, or make you have to close your business.
- Donation scams are also on the rise. If you want to donate money for Coronavirus relief, check the charity’s rating.
What can you do?
- Do not click any links, and do not open attachments! Be super-cautious right now. People are vulnerable and more likely to click on a link out of desperation.
- Research the legitimacy. A quick search online will often give you an answer as to whether something is fake.
- Do not reply! Contact directly, instead of replying or clicking in the email.
It would be nice if we could put a big blanket over everyone to protect them, especially in times like this, but as I said before, the bad guys are always one step ahead. Keep vigilant and always on your toes! Don’t fall for a scam that could cost you or your business dearly. Remember, that click out of curiosity is not worth it!!
For more information visit FTC online: https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice
About Harbor Computer Services
Harbor Computer Services is an IT firm servicing Southeastern Michigan. We work exclusively under contract with our clients to provide technology direction and either become the IT department or provide assistance to the internal IT they already have. We have won many awards for our work over the years, including the worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year in 2010. We’re the smallest firm to have ever won this most prestigious award. Most recently we were recognized as one of the top 20 visionaries in small business IT by ChannelPro Magazine (2015). And in 2016 as the top Michigan IT firm for Manufacturing. There are a few simple things that make Harbor Computer Services the best choice for your business. •We are Professionals •We are Responsible •We are Concerned About The Success of Your Business