As a business person, you know about phishing, of course. At first glance, the email looks like it comes from a recognized company, complete with a familiar logo, slogan, and URL. But it’s really from a cyber crook trying to con consumers out of account numbers, passwords, or cash. In addition to the serious injury these scams inflict on consumers, there’s another victim of phishing: the reputable business whose good name was stolen by the scammer.
Some forms of masquerading are just good clean fun. Consider The Masked Singer, a surprise TV hit in which a panel of celebrities tries to guess the identity of other celebrities who sing karaoke while wearing elaborate disguises. (We’re not making that up. It’s a thing now.) But other forms of masquerading are based in deception, as the FTC alleges in a lawsuit against Global Asset Financial Services Group, LLC, and 15 Buffalo- and Charlotte-based defendants.
Steely Dan may be one of the best duos of the rock era. (Sorry, Donnie and Marie fans.) Their song “Hey Nineteen” reminds us to mention some FTC consumer protection developments that could be of interest to your company or clients in 2019. As “Any Major Dude Will Tell You,” when you’re “Reelin’ in the Years” – or at least recapping the past one – consider this non-exhaustive and in-no-particular-order case compilation.
Not many small businesses do business these days without the services of third-party vendors, some of whom have access to your company’s sensitive information. Even if you run a tight cybersecurity ship, what happens if your accountant loses a laptop or the payroll company that connects to your network experiences a security breach? Your business could be in jeopardy, of course, but that’s not all.
An employee gets a phone call, pop-up, or email warning about a problem with the office computer. In an effort to be helpful – or perhaps concerned they clicked on something that caused the glitch – the employee follows instructions to send money, turn over personal information, or provide access to your system. As a small business owner, you know it’s a tech support scam, but are you sure every member of your team has the savvy to spot it?
It’s Day 2 of the data security discussion, presented as part of the FTC Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century – and you can watch the webcast live.
When cyber crooks send messages trying to trick people into disclosing passwords or account information, they often mimic a recognizable email address to make it look like it’s coming from a trusted source – for example, from your company. It’s a practice called spoofing and it packs a double wallop. Not only does it put consumers at risk for identity theft, but spoofing can unfairly damage the reputation for trust you’ve worked hard to earn.
What do Hollywood classics Sunset Boulevard, Citizen Kane, Double Indemnity, and Fight Club have in common? They all begin with the end of the story.
Archeologists report that the first mention of diabetes was in a papyrus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Roll the scroll out a bit and it wouldn’t surprise us to find an ad (in hieroglyphics, of course) for a pill or potion promising a miracle treatment. Questionable diabetes products have been around for centuries and the latest one to attract law enforcement attention is a dietary supplement called Nobetes.
Phishing scammers have gotten more sophisticated. They still send out mass emails asking consumers for credit card numbers or bank account information. But they’re also targeting small businesses by imitating the look of messages your employees routinely receive.
According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, an international network of corporations and individuals put consumers through the wringer with false claims about “free” trial offers, followed by unauthorized charges to their accounts.
Whether it’s a spare can of cranberry sauce or an extra turkey platter, thoughtful Thanksgiving hosts make contingency plans for the holiday. This year, if the dinner discussion veers into controversial territory – like the pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie debate – here’s a suggested topic of conversation you can have at the ready.
Mention the word “ransomware” at a meeting of small business owners and you’ll feel the temperature in the room drop by 20 degrees. A ransomware attack is a chilling prospect that could freeze you out of the files you need to run your business. When FTC staff met with business owners across the country, you cited ransomware as a particular concern. New resources from the FTC can help protect your company from this threat.
It started as one of those “run it up the flagpole” ideas to enlist big-name gymnasts to promote a brand of mosquito repellent just as news stories about the 2016 Brazil Olympics were sounding warnings about the Zika virus. Public relations firm Creaxion Corporation and specialty sports magazine publisher Inside Publications used a variety of digital strategies on behalf of the brand: athlete endorsements, social media posts, “advertorials,” and consumer reviews.
An employee catches up on some work while visiting the local coffee shop. She grabs her Double Mocha to go, but accidentally leaves behind a flash drive with hundreds of Social Security numbers on it. When she returns, the flash drive is gone. Then there’s the staff member who needs to free up file room space. After he tosses a stack of old company bank records into the garbage, a dumpster diver spots the trash and walks away with a windfall.
If you run a business that offers people a way to send money to other people, you may want to pay attention to whether your service is catering to fraudsters. It’s an important message because, for many years, money transfers have been a preferred payment method for scammers, who know that they can pick up the cash and disappear. And it’s a message some companies apparently need to hear twice.
Based on the promoters’ promises, it sounded like a tropical paradise: a luxury enclave called Sanctuary Belize featuring a championship golf course, a new airport with direct flights to the U.S., and a hospital staffed with American doctors. No wonder consumers – many of whom were contemplating retirement – sunk more than $100 million of their savings into lots in what appeared to be a swanky resort development already under construction.