How to spot scams targeting your business

Scams are bombarding all of us. I see them every day via calls, emails, text messages and even live. The most common ones I run into are the following:

  • Text message “click this” scams: I call this “click this” because that is the goal. The message always is built around urgency with hopes somebody wonders and clicks. Examples could be the following:
    • Your Netflix (or something else) account is about to expire, please click here to continue services
    • A package wasn’t able to arrive. Please check the shipping address
    • Your credit card expired, and payment is required. Please click here to make a payment
    • Did you get my picture?
    • 25% off, click here to get your coupon.
  • Phone calls: I get random calls all of the time. Typically, it’s a robot but sometimes it’s a live person. The good news is SPAN warnings help but not always block these calls. Sometimes the scam is more information learning but other times, the goal is to have me open my phone or go to my computer and go somewhere malicious.
  • Emails: These are the most classic and come in volume. The good news is SPAM filters do a great job but some get through. Like with text messages, emails tend to drive a desire to click something.
  • Live: Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a SCAM. A popular place you can test your scam identification skills is going to the fair. Many of the games are designed to overcharge you for a small outcome. I recall walking by a dart toss and the guy said “hey, I will let you throw one dart for free, and if you are good, I will charge you for the second”. I decided to play this out and missed the first one. He gave me another free one. I hit the target and he said “hey for 5 dollars, you can go again and pick a small thing”. My son wanted to throw so we did it and hit. Then his response “well for 5 more you can upgrade from these shitty small things to something actually worthy”. At this point, he is attempting to get me to walk away spending 10 dollars for a .50 cent stuffed animal. I didn’t want to see where it goes from there but assumed he attempts to get me to spend at least 25+ dollars on a 2-dollar item. It’s a clever method to get somebody committed and start investing then play on “you are already pot committed, spend more”. The cost is giving away a few extra 1cent balloons. Try going into a fair and see if you can spot the scam. In my example, the balloons have nothing to do with how they make money.

Spotting scams is a mind shift focused on questioning what the purpose is of a situation before taking action. It means to lead with your logical mind vs emotional mind, which studies show the emotional mind acts faster. You need to allow your logical mind time to step in or you could be swindled. Don’t make a gut / feels based decision!

Wells Fargo sent me their view of common scams and actions they recommend. I’m sure most businesses follow similar recommendations to reduce the risk of scams. That message for Wells is the following. I think they are good to review.

From Wells Fargo

Your account security is important to us. One way to help keep your account safe is to be aware of scammers who pose as Wells Fargo and ask for your personal information.

If you receive a call asking for your access codes or other personal information — stop, think, and verify.

Tips to help protect your business from scammers

  • Don’t respond to unexpected calls, emails, or text messages from anyone claiming to be Wells Fargo. If you have any doubts, call us immediately using the number on the back of your Wells Fargo card or at 1-800-869-3557.
  • Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers can change their number to make calls and texts appear like they’re coming from Wells Fargo.
  • Don’t share your online banking password or one-time passcodes with anyone. Wells Fargo will never ask you for any account access information in a call, text, or email.

Another one from Wells Fargo about shopping scams. These also make sense to me.

Avoid online shopping scams
Four tips for safer holiday shopping online
  Watch for red flags Pressure to purchase immediately, rude or pushy language, or unusually specific ways to pay such as gift cards, crypto, or payment apps. Pay with a credit card if you don’t know the seller.
Know who you’re buying from Check out the seller before checking out — remember, anyone can set up an online shop or social ad. Do an online search for information or complaints and be sure they are legit.
  Make sure it’s the real deal Be wary of hidden costs like shipping, insurance, special handling, fake COVID-related costs, or product shortage related fees.
Pause before you buy If an online deal seems too good to be true, take a moment to talk to a trusted friend or family member before you decide to buy.

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