The holiday season is here, and there are holiday related scams to watch out for. These scams may come in the form of emails or text messages containing malicious links or attachments. Traditional scam lures include holiday ecards, well wishes for the holidays, purported charities, retail and e-commerce sites, parcel services (Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, etc.). Last year the FBI received 1,300 reports each day about internet crimes, and it recorded more than $3.5 billion in losses to individuals and businesses.
To help protect your business and your information this holiday season, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) published the following tips to stay cyber smart:
- Beware of phishing websites designed to steal your usernames, passwords, and payment card information.
- Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do not click on links or open attachments in emails from unexpected or unknown sources.
- Watch out for malicious mobile apps.
- Be on the lookout for indications that a website may be compromised with a payment card skimmer.
- Carefully check gift cards before purchasing and look for any evidence of physical tampering and, if you receive a gift card, use it as quickly as possible to avoid loss or theft.
- Avoid connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.
- When possible, use credit cards rather than debit cards online and at physical retailers.
- Recycle your unwanted gifts, but never recycle your passwords!
- Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for online accounts whenever possible to minimize the risk of your personal data being compromised
The holiday season looks like it will coincide with a new round of Covid-19 stimulus, including direct payments, more PPP funding, and possibly (hopefully) specific aid to hard hit industries such as restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. However, with these programs, especially grant and loan programs, there is a threat of email phishing scams.
Always be vigilant in protecting your personal information and data assets. If you suspect an email is associated with a fraud scam targeting the SBA, report it to the Office of Inspector General’s Hotline at 800-767-0385 or online at https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert.