Anyone who has a mailbox or an email knows all about junk mail. We all receive Publisher’s Clearing House entries, calls about your car’s extended warranty, promotions for items and events that you swore that you discontinued by typing “STOP”, and just needless spam that you waste your time going through and deleting. We receive unsolicited messages every single day.
It’s actually more routine now than annoying.
Today, there are more scams directed at the average individual than ever; and, as a result, it can have negative effects on every organization if someone mistakenly interacts with the wrong one. If you think it isn’t a big deal consider that these scams cost individuals, businesses, and governments over a trillion dollars every year. That’s >$1,000,000,000,000. These scams affect more people from all different types of age groups more than any other crime. Today, we’ll go through why so many people fall for scams and what you can do to protect yourself against being part of this staggering statistic.
More Scams, More Exposure
The first reason that there are more people falling for scams is because there are just so many scams sent out. For years, there were lottery scams that cost people in the neighborhood of $200 million dollars, but today that cost has doubled; presumably because there are just more scams of that type sent every day. Before everyone depended so highly on the Internet, scams would happen, but they would be more intimate. Individual people stealing money by getting people to invest in real estate scams. Even the Bernie Madoff scam, that defrauded investors of over $64 billion dollars, was the work of a lone firm where many of the people working there thought the company was legitimate.
Today, there are teams (companies, in fact) that are in business to defraud people. Since the cost of perpetuating this type of crime has dropped substantially, businesses with the model of fraud have grown and are responsible for the major increase in stolen money.
What’s worse, it is more difficult than ever to catch and prosecute these criminal organizations. They often operate out of nations that don’t have the type of law enforcement infrastructure needed to combat them. Think about this: Have you recently got a phone call from your area code only to answer it and it be a scam caller? This isn’t somebody in the next town trying to sell you on an extended warranty for your car, it is someone a world away using a routing program to spoof the number that will work to engage the call’s recipient.
Scams Have Targets
Another reason people are falling for scams is that they are becoming more and more sophisticated by the day. Scams today use the names of popular brands or even people’s own companies to get them to engage with the ruse. Most businesses move fast, especially on the Internet and if a subordinate gets an email from their direct supervisor to send money, login credentials, or other sensitive information, many workers will ignore the warning signs and complete the task. Only after the fact will they understand that they’ve been had by an organization that’s whole mission is to steal data and defraud individuals.
The more familiar the tone of the correspondence and the more familiar the whole thing is presented as, the more apt that people are going to let their guard down and interact with these scams. Somewhat surprisingly, younger people are more likely to ignore warning signs and move forward. There are more millennials in the current workforce than any other generation and their lack of awareness, or even their desire to do their job well, can lead to major issues. Since older employees tend to have experience dealing directly with the people they need to deal with, they aren’t as targeted as younger employees. That said, there were over 1.2 trillion phishing emails sent in 2020, and that number continues to rise every year, so everyone remains a target.
What You Can Do
Well as a business owner or manager, you need to do everything in your power to keep your people educated about how to interact with scam emails, phone calls, and instant messages. Let’s look at some good tips to follow when educating your staff and building your cybersecurity strategy.
- Be alert – In order to catch a phishing scam before it creates a headache for you, you have to interact with every message you get with a degree of skepticism.
- Verify – The best way to avoid troubles from email and messages sent to you that demand action is to verify with the sender. It doesn’t take that long and any grief you may get from it is far less than the grief you would get if you sent money or information to an unauthorized person outside the organization.
- Look for telltale phishing signs – Does the message you received demand things of you that aren’t normal? Does it have links, phone numbers, or attachments that the email directs you to interact with? Are there spelling and grammar errors? If the message you’ve received doesn’t seem legitimate, it likely isn’t.
- Use security software – One of the best ways to fish out phishing emails is to use a spam protection program. Most enterprise emails have one built in, but they don’t always catch all of them. If you find that you are getting spam emails in your inbox, you can direct them to your spam folder.
- Keep a backup (or several) – One of the best ways to protect your business in lieu of all the scams and hacks going on is to ensure that your applications and data are backed up. At MSPNetworks, we utilize a backup and disaster recovery service that keeps your files backed up onsite and in an offsite data center to ensure that when you need to get to your backups, you can.
If you would like to know more about how to avoid online scams and keep your business more secure, give us a call today at (516) 403-9001 and return to our blog regularly.