Written by Clayton Alexander
Recently, your local Better Business Bureau’s President & CEO Blair Looney received an email from a friend. Rather than his personal email, it had been sent to his work email account. In their message, the friend explained that a relative’s birthday was coming up and that they were in a bind. They asked if he would, on their behalf, purchase some gift cards from a major retailer for them, give them the codes and they would then be paid back for the transaction at a later date. Naturally, Blair knew this was a scam immediately, and dealt with it accordingly. We found out later that the person’s email had been hacked by a scammer and was pretending to be them.
While this sort of scam can be seen from a mile away this time, the next one you or a coworker encounter might not be so obvious. Because of this, you should always be on the lookout for anything suspicious as far as your emails are concerned. If you get a request from a coworker and something seems off, don’t hesitate to contact them directly and confirm that they were the one that sent it.
One issue with suspicious emails is that the damage might not surface until further down the line. Clicking on links or opening attachments can, unbeknownst to you, install malware onto your computer. This malware can then spread to the computers of your coworkers and compromise the information of a company’s employees and clientele alike. If you believe you’ve accidentally clicked/downloaded something suspicious, shut down your computer and contact your company’s IT department immediately.
Here are some quick tips from BBB on how you and the rest of your office can stay cyber secure if you’re continuing to work remotely:
- Remember to save your work and lock your computer when stepping away from your desk. This applies to personal and corporate PCs alike.
- Log off. When you are finished for the day, log off your remote PC. Don’t just lock it or disconnect from it without logging off.
- Password protect your office cell phone.
- Don’t click. Watch for any coronavirus (or other) communication asking you to click a link, login or supply a password. These messages should be viewed with extreme skepticism. Read more on phishing scams.
- Never open an attachment, click on links, or reply to messages unless you are 100 percent certain that the source is legitimate and that the communication was expected.
- Call to verify. If you get an e-mail requesting you to do a favor for your manager (like purchasing Target gift cards or wire transferring money), always call the person to verify before acting. Many of these requests are bogus.
- Don’t allow remote IT support without verifying the source. Your IT department will communicate with you first before connecting to your computer. If anyone you don’t recognize calls you and claims to be with your IT department and asks you for your password, Connectwise, Automate, Machine, or TeamViewer ID or other sensitive information, hang up and call your IT department to see if the request was legitimate. Read more on tech support scams.
- Do not accept unsolicited support calls claiming to be from Microsoft, Apple, or other vendors.
- Avoid pop-up numbers. If a message box pops up with a phone number in it, do not call the number.
- Always run anti-virus/anti-malware software on your computers, particularly home PCs. Ensure that your subscription and antivirus definitions are kept up-to date. Also ensure that Windows PCs are rebooted regularly and that Windows Updates are routinely installed on home systems.
As always, you can find more tips and information about the latest scams at bbb.org. If you’ve encountered any scams yourself, make sure to report it at bbb.org/scamtracker.
Clayton Alexander is the Storyteller/Communications Specialist at Better Business Bureau serving Central California & Inland Empire Counties.