Technology

Be Alert to New IT Risks

With many more folks working from home right now, IT security has become more difficult for everyone. Here are some tips for the team.

We need to work together to make sure we are protecting our business and clients. First rule of thumb is to contact your IT if anything suspicious happens. Better to have a few false alarms than miss the real attempt to steal money or data.

Whether you are personally working from home or not, you likely have colleagues and clients who are. So, it is difficult to know whether that request to move funds coming from your client’s home email address is valid or not. Now, more than ever, it is vital to use a second form of validation for email requests. Using a totally separate form of communication, such as a voice call or text message can prevent criminals from making you an easy target. Remember that criminals these days sometimes intercept mail for days or weeks before attacking, so they know your schedule and what is going on with your clients. They will intentionally strike at the least convenient time for you and your client.

Beware of Coronavirus Scams

Fear drives people to make spot decisions. That is an aspect of human nature that con artists are very good at exploiting. Right now, criminals are using fear of COVID-19 virus to profit from unsuspecting victims. Many scams are recycled versions of old tactics: Family Emergency Scams, Tax Refund Scams, and Charity Scams. To stay safe, learn these techniques and expect them to be reused every time there is an emergency. Teach your spouse, children, parents, grandparents, and everyone you love to watch out for the depraved criminals preying on our fear.

CARES Act Stimulus Checks Scams

The US Department of Treasury has a statement that pretty much sums it up:
If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped.

https://home.treasury.gov/services/report-fraud-waste-and-abuse/covid-19-scams

Family Emergency Scams

The Federal Trade Commission has an article detailing scammers posing as friends or relatives who need money wired immediately. The most successful version lately is pretending to be a grandchild who needs money to get tested or treated for the coronavirus. To protect ourselves, we need to resist the urge to act right away. Always verify the person’s identity and the emergency itself. Whatever you do, don’t give bank account information, wire money or send a money order. Once the money is out of your bank account, you will probably never get it back.

Family Emergency Scam
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0204-family-emergency-scams

Grandparent Coronavirus Scam
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/grandparent-scams-age-coronavirus

Other Scams

The truth is criminals will use ANYTHING you worry about to try to trick you into giving them money or information. The FTC also has some great information on some of these other tactics.

Charity Scams
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams

Errands Scam
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/avoid-scams-while-finding-help-during-quarantine

Social Security verification scam
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/avoiding-ssa-scams-during-covid-19

Happy (and safe) computing!
Bob Simpson
CIO, Finley & Cook, PLLC

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