In today’s digital age, nearly any type of business can be subject to spam, fraud, and scams—and no company or individual is exempt from these issues.
Fraud and scams come in many forms, such as phishing, malware, ransomware, and more. While their repercussions may seem small at first glance, they can actually be quite detrimental to your business if left unchecked—and you could even end up losing money! Don’t get caught in the trap; learn how to spot and avoid digital fraud, spam, and scams so that your business doesn’t fall victim to them.
To help businesses spot red flags, we have compiled all the information we collected from marketing and tech expert Faisal Abidi into a blog. Read on to know more:
What Is Digital Fraud?
Digital fraud is any kind of malicious action undertaken in a digital environment that can have a detrimental effect on your business. One example would be email spamming—the act of sending out unsolicited emails to people and companies with whom you don’t have any prior contact.
Another example would be phishing—the act of sending out fraudulent emails that appear legitimate but contain links or attachments designed to trick you into giving up personal information or your credit card number.
The most common form of digital fraud, however, is online payment scams. As more businesses are moving towards online payments for products and services, so too are criminals looking for new ways to take advantage of customers who use their credit cards online. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to understand how these scams work so you can protect yourself from them.
Tips For Avoiding Common Scams
Never reveal your social security number to anyone over email. An online business should never ask for your social security number, full name, or bank account information via email or a text message.
Some organizations that can legitimately request personal information from you will not contact you through these channels and will instead contact you with legitimate forms that include these questions and from official IDs. These types of organizations include government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax authorities, as well as financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. If you receive an email asking for any of these pieces of information, do not respond to it; instead, delete it and report it to your local police department’s Internet crime unit.
How Can You Safeguard Yourself From Spam?
In today’s world of complex technology, spam is everywhere. It comes in a variety of forms—email spam (or email fraud), social media spam and advertisement-laden websites, or even phone calls.
You may think it’s not that big a deal to be receiving unsolicited messages and advertisements for products you don’t want or need. But remember, if you click on unverified links or respond to suspicious emails, you could end up being exposed to malware—and your computer could get hacked. That means your personal information could end up in bad hands and your identity stolen. If you do receive spam mail, there are ways to protect yourself from digital fraud:
The first thing you should do is delete any suspicious emails immediately without opening them; don’t open any attachments they might contain either. If you receive an email that looks like it was sent from a friend or colleague, double-check to make sure it really was by contacting that person directly.
Finally, if you get an email that asks for personal information—such as your social security number or bank account details—don’t respond to it and instead report it to your company’s IT department or police department.
Four Ways Spam Affects Your Business
Did you know that spam affects more than just your inbox? It can have serious repercussions on your business as well. In fact, it costs U.S. businesses $10 billion annually in lost productivity and fraud-related expenses alone. Here are four ways spam can affect your business:
- Email security threats – One of the biggest issues with spam is how easily it spreads from one user to another via phishing or malware attacks. Such attacks are designed to look like emails from legitimate companies or individuals so that users will click on links or download attachments that contain viruses or other malicious software (malware).
- Lost productivity – Even if you’re diligent about protecting your computer and network from malicious software, you can still fall victim to spam-related downtime or lost productivity. If a phishing attack hits your inbox or someone on your team accidentally clicks on a link in an email that contains malware, it could take hours for you to get back up and running again—not to mention all those wasted hours spent cleaning up after an attack.
- Expenses – Depending on how your business handles its email and who’s responsible for filtering through it, you could be hit with expenses related to hardware or software purchases in order to keep things running smoothly. And if a phishing attack results in lost productivity or downtime, you could even face higher labor costs as well.
- Reputation – While you might not think your business’s reputation is at stake if a spam attack hits your inbox or someone on your team accidentally clicks on a link in an email that contains malware, you could be surprised by how quickly word spreads and how much damage it can do to your company’s reputation—especially if it happens more than once. In fact, according to a study, 85 percent of consumers are unlikely to do business with companies they perceive as being vulnerable to digital threats.
Businesses are more prone to digital fraud and online scams than ever before. It’s important for companies to be aware of what they can do to protect themselves from these attacks. But it’s also important to understand that there is no single solution.
The business world has changed drastically over recent years; threats come in all shapes and sizes—and while some may seem obvious (like malware), others aren’t so easy to spot (like social engineering). Understanding how each type of attack works is crucial in protecting your company against it.