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How to Spot and Respond to Email Scams

The majority of our daily business and banking transactions take place online, making wire fraud extremely lucrative for cybercriminals. Scams over email, text, or messaging systems are becoming more and more common since it only takes one response for criminals to defraud companies of millions through business email compromise.

How to Tell If a Request Over Text or Email Is Fraudulent

Scam Alert Cell Phone on a KeyboardThe moment new technology is invented, criminals will get to work finding ways to exploit it for their own gain. Fortunately, fraudulent requests for money or information often contain a few telltale signs that they’re not legitimate.

Here are just a few ways to detect and avoid email scams:

  • Check spelling and grammar. Fraudulent requests often contain spelling mistakes, improper punctuation, or poor English usage. While grammatical mistakes alone may not be evidence of a scam, they are a good reason to get a second opinion before taking any action.
  • Go outside the email. Scammers may pretend to be tech companies like Apple, claiming you have a virus or your account will be deleted unless you “reset” your password (in other words, provide the anonymous messenger with your current password). Instead of responding to the email or text, go to the tech company’s website and call the number listed on their customer service page for verification.
  • Question strange requests. Criminals may make odd requests in order to avoid detection or make it harder to retrieve lost funds. For example, they may ask that all information be sent through email rather than in person or over the phone. They may also request payment in odd forms, such as gift cards, since online payment vouchers are difficult to return.
  • Take your time. Many text-based scams rely on threats or time-sensitive requests to frighten the victim into responding quickly. Scammers often claim to be government organizations such as the IRS or Department of Homeland Security, threatening immediate action or deportation if money is not sent immediately.

How to React to an Email Scam Within Your Company

Unfortunately, there’s a higher risk of being targeted for online scams for Florida residents and businesses. In addition to having the second-highest number of reported cybercrime victims in the nation, Florida also has the second-highest total amount of money lost as a result of fraudulent wire transfers.

The good news is that no matter how sophisticated a fraud attempt is, there’s always a way around it. The sooner you spot an attempt at email compromise or potential fraud, the less likely you are to suffer a loss as a result.

If you receive a message that seems suspicious, you should follow these steps:

  • Don’t click links! Fraudulent messages may provide a “convenient” link to take action, allowing scammers to install malware or open a webpage for you to transfer funds. Don’t click any links, don’t text back, and don’t respond to a suspected fraud email.
  • Warn coworkers. Don’t forward the email to your coworkers, as this keeps the email in circulation and increases the chances that someone will click the links by mistake. Instead, take a screenshot of the message (removing the scammer’s contact information) and send it to your staff with clear instructions on how to respond.
  • Report the crime. In addition to alerting management and the company’s IT department, you should report the fraud attempt to law enforcement by filing a complaint with the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
  • Double-check your security. Once your technology team knows about the attempted breach, it can take steps to improve security and authentication measures to prevent similar attacks in the future. You should also institute a mandatory fraud training program for staff members at every level.

If you have been the victim of wire fraud, the attorneys at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. can determine your next steps and discover who may be liable for your losses. We offer free case evaluations for victims of wire fraud, so contact us today to speak to our legal team.