Financial watchdog ASIC has observed a rise in the number of investment scam reports from Australian consumers and investors during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, many SMEs are dealing with as much as ten times more email spam.
Reports of misconduct to ASIC increased by 20% from March to May compared to the same period last year, while by the third week of July, the ACCC’s Scamwatch website had received over 3,600 scam reports mentioning the coronavirus.
More significantly, the ACCC has registered over $2,382,000 in reported losses since the outbreak of COVID-19. These losses are additional to the hit the pandemic has caused to the daily operations of many Australian SMEs. Research by OnDeck shows that COVID-19 has impacted 83% of small business owners, with nearly all SMEs expecting future impacts.
Phone scams or ‘Vishing’
Be suspicious of unknown or unexpected callers. If you’re unsure, hang up.
Financial institutions and telcos won’t request remote access to your computer or ask for confidential information such as a PIN, password or SMS Code. If they do ask for this information, end the call immediately.
To verify the legitimacy of a telephone contact, use an independent source such as a phone book, past bill, or online search to check them out.
SMS scams or ‘Smishing’
Some heinous scamsters are making approaches via text or email professing to be representatives of government agencies. Often the scam involves pretending to offer information about COVID-19 support, while the texts or emails include malicious links and attachments designed to steal your personal, business or financial information.
If you’re unsure, don’t click on the links as they can lead to false sign-in pages and other websites designed to pinch your information. If you have concerns or questions about the texts or emails, contact the organisation directly on a trusted number to verify their contents.
Email scams or ‘Phishing’
Since the start of COVID-19, phishing scams focusing on businesses of all shapes and sizes have gone into overdrive. The scammers are trying to social engineer their way into SMEs by preying on challenges to their operation caused by the pandemic.
They start by asking you and your employees to click on a link in their email. This malicious link or attachment takes the unsuspecting person somewhere that requests a username and password. Once this information is given up, it can be sold to others who might use it to hack into your SME’s website or some part of your internal system.
Other common tricks include sending an email to a staff member that pretends to be from Microsoft Shared Ports, while another method involves sending a dodgy Gmail login because they know you use Gmail. Only open links if you’re 100% certain it’s from a trusted and familiar source.
Invest in training
As an SME owner, training your employees to recognise a scam is an invaluable investment in securing your online assets, especially with more people working away from the office.
The scammers recognise we are all doing more meetings from home via video whether it is Zoom or Webex. Then they email a random link from a source that looks like a trusted colleague asking you to share a file rather than inviting you to a meeting. To protect your business, be sure to call the colleague first to check the email is legitimate before clicking on the link or you risk giving away your username and password.
Humans are often said to be the weakest link in the fight against scammers. But with the right training and frameworks in place, they can be your most dependable line of defence against scams.
Looking for more?
For more information about the latest scams, visit Scamwatch.
Prepared by OnDeck Capital Australia Pty Ltd ABN 28 603 753 215 (“OnDeck”) for general information purposes only. Content may belong to or have originated from third parties and OnDeck takes no responsibility for the accuracy, validity, reliability or completeness of any information. Information current as at August 2020. You should not rely upon the material or information as a basis for making any business, financial or any other decisions. Loans issued in Australia are subject to the terms of a loan agreement issued by OnDeck. Loans are subject to lender approval. OnDeck® is a Registered Trademark. All rights reserved.