Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In time for Christmas - the latest email scams

Scammers don't take a break for Christmas and there's a new addition to this year's crowd.  Email scammers are taking advantage of business owners who are up to their necks in email and may be too harried to look closely at the emails they are replying to.

The latest scam is a fake Better Business Bureau (BBB) complaint.  Here's a screenshot of one I got the other day:
No one wants a BBB complaint on their record, right??  You're dealing with so many customers at the busiest time of the year, plus getting your finances straight for tax season, plus duties at home.  It's easy to panic and just click on the link and see what's happening.  Don't click.  Resist the urge.

Like many spoof emails there will be attempts to fake the "@bbb.org" address and use formal business-speak. However the syntax and grammatical errors are typical of someone who uses English as a second language.  The clincher is the email link you are asked to click.  

When you hover your cursor over the link, the URL that appears has nothing to do with the BBB.  In fact if you do click on it, it will redirect you several times until you end up in a site hosted in India.  (Special trick you do through a firewall on full blast and several backup antivirus programs.  Don't try this at home, kids.)

A similar scam making the rounds is the "ACH payment rejected" scam email.  If you do a lot of online payments (say, for payroll, or for federal or state business-related taxes) this one may scare you too.  You are not going to be contacted via email with generic language if an electronic payment fails.  It's a scam.

No matter how crazy it gets, don't panic and click links on emails that threaten you with late payments or a bad business rep.  No reputable institution is going to ask for your personal identification like driver license numbers or social security numbers.  Nor will they ask for your bank passwords, account numbers, etc.

If you have any doubts about an email you receive, call your bank or the BBB directly and confirm the information.

Hang in there!  Only 12 more days til Christmas!

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