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.
If you have a 2012, 2013, or 2014 Passat 2.0L TDI and got the approved emissions modification, Volkswagen has identified a potential problem with the “fix” it installed on your car that needs your immediate attention. If you have one of those vehicles but haven’t gotten the modification, you must make an important decision very soon. You’ll be getting a detailed letter in the mail from VW about this, but in the meantime, here are some key facts.
The FTC hosted roundtables across the country asking small business owners how we can help you address the challenges of cybersecurity. Based on your feedback, we designed to-the-point tips now available at ftc.gov/cybersecurity. Last week we kicked off a 12-part every-Friday Business Blog series with cybersecurity basics.
If you aren’t familiar with the word “overbiffing,” there’s no need to add it to your vocabulary. But if you know what overbiffing is and engage in it, a case just filed by the FTC and the New York Attorney General suggests now would be an excellent time to cut it out.
One of the Utah-based defendants’ corporate names was Vision Solution Marketing, but you need to hear their sales pitch to get a sense of how they peddled their big-money “business coaching” services to consumers. In addition to imposing multi-million dollar judgments, FTC settlements ban the defendants for life from selling business coaching or development services. But you really should listen to these phone calls.
Imagine a baseball scout is taking a look at a prospect. On paper, the slugger’s batting average seems impressive. But now imagine that, unbeknownst to the scout, those stats left out all the times the batter struck out. It’s an unrealistic hypothetical, of course, but it illustrates the principle that in compiling averages, removing certain categories of data can skew the results.
As a small business owner, you know that cyber criminals will steal data any place they can find it, whether it’s from a global giant or a Main Street store. So where can you find just-the-facts security advice tailored to your needs? At ftc.gov/cybersecurity. The FTC has boiled it down to a dozen need-to-know topics for small businesses and we’ll address one each week in the Business Blog.
Do you work for a non-profit? Or maybe you’re on the board of a charity or active in a professional or service organization in your community. If so, you know the group collects all sorts of private information, including details about members or people you serve and financial information related to donors. Your own personal information, too, is probably in the group’s records of employees and volunteers. Cyber criminals would love to get their hands on that data.