Holiday small business

If you work at a small business, be sure to keep your eye out for small business phishing scams. Consumers have been warned for some time about the threat of phishing attacks. These scams are highly prevalent because they are easy to pull off and require almost no technical know-how. At the same time, they are also highly believable and victims fall for them too often. Therefore they can have devastating financial consequences.

However, consumers are not the only victims who face down this threat on a near-daily basis. Small business phishing scams have emerged as an increasingly popular scam for a variety of reasons.

In a phishing scam, someone sends you a message and pretends to be someone else. They might pose as your favorite retailer, your financial institution, your email provider, your college roommate or even your boss. The goal is to lure you into handing over sensitive information, making a payment, downloading a virus to your computer or some other similar malicious activity.

For small businesses, the scammer’s goal might be similar but may include a different approach, one that is more oriented towards businesses. One report of a small business phishing scam involved an email that offered the business owner the chance to be featured in a holiday gift guide. The link included in the email redirected to a harmful website and contained a virus. Other common small business phishing scams can include phony invoices, bogus tax notices, fake customer service complaints and instructions from the boss to purchase gift cards and submit the gift card numbers.

No matter how it occurs and what is the goal, it is the victims’ unfortunate task to be prepared. Avoiding a small business phishing scam requires that you can spot the signs of a phishing attempt, such as an email address that does not match the company name, intentionally bad grammar and spelling, a vague greeting or description of the issue or any instructions to provide sensitive information. Also, making it a good habit—or even a company policy—to never download an attachment, click a link or visit a website through a message unless you were expecting it can protect you. Keeping your antivirus software up-to-date is also important for fighting back against certain forms of phishing attempts. For companies, keeping a tight rein on who can interact with your computer network can also help prevent these kinds of attacks.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

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