A man drinks a cup of coffee while looking at his work computer with a big warning box on it.Have you ever received an email that went something along these lines?

SUBJECT: There’s an Issue with Your Account
FROM: American Express <accounts.ae@american-express-company.au.com>
TO: Me <myname@gmail.com>
DATE: Friday, January 14, 2022

Hi Dear,

Due to recent activities on your account, we placed a temporary hold until you verify your account. You need to review your information with us now to continue using your American Express card.

To continue using American Express Online, we advice you to update the information about account ownership.


Your Friends at American Express Company.

Maybe it wasn’t your American Express, but perhaps, Netflix, Amazon, PayPal, Costco, or your financial institution appeared to be the sender. Unfortunately, the actual sender is a scammer with a goal to get you to click the link in the email so they can trick you into installing malware or viruses on your computer, steal your login credentials or personal information, or hold your data hostage until you pay a ransom.

If you’re not working with a knowledgeable IT company that can help prevent these types of phishing attempts, you or your employees may unknowingly fall victim to these scams. The result can be catastrophic for your business.

You might think that you won’t likely be the target of scammers as a small business owner. But the truth is that cybercriminals target smaller businesses more frequently because they typically don’t have the security protocols larger companies have. The number of phishing scams is also increasing, with July 2021 having the highest number of phishing attacks in the Anti-Phishing Working Group’s (APWG) reporting history.

So, what’s a savvy business owner like you to do? There are several things you can do to help protect your business against phishing attacks:

  1. You and your employees need to avoid phishing scams by learning to spot them early.
  2. Work with an IT company to improve your network and email security and train your employees to prevent digital theft through phishing attacks.
  3. Know what to do to protect your company if you fall victim to a scam.

With over 30 years of experience, Computer Services Unlimited can help with all three of these steps! When you can’t afford to lose downtime because a cybercriminal gained access to your system and is holding it for ransom, you need an IT partner knowledgeable on protecting and maintaining small business security. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

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What Are Common Indications that an Email is a Phishing Attempt?

You may think that you are wise regarding phishing scams, but cyber-thugs are becoming more sophisticated with their phishing campaigns. Emails can look, sound, and appear from legitimate companies—at least to the untrained eye. Keep reading to learn how to spot one.

13 Tell-Tale Signs of a Phishing Email

The word “Phishing” is printed in red on a keyboard’s enter key with a fishing hook surrounding it.

  1. The email is asking for personal information.
  2. The graphics on the email appear to be legitimate but will be slightly altered, like missing design elements, wrong colors, etc.
  3. Misspellings and grammatical errors are present. Notice in our example email how it says, “we advice you” instead of “advise you.”
  4. It presents an offer too good to be true. No, a Nigerian prince will not share his $1.6 billion wealth with you if you wire him $500 today.
  5. There is a sense of urgency in the email; like in our example email, you need to update your personal information NOW to use your credit card.
  6. Links in the email appear to be broken. If you hover over a link with your mouse without clicking it, it will show you the URL. If the URL doesn’t appear to match the company’s website, it’s a good sign of a fake email and means you should avoid clicking on the link.
  7. Links that simply say “Click Here.” They’re trying to entice you to click the link for more information so they can likely install malware on your computer.
  8. Email addresses that don’t align with the company’s brand. Large companies have branded email accounts. American Express’s website is simply americanexpress.com, not www.american-express-company.au.com, as indicated in the return email address of our example phishing attempt.
  9. The email tells you there’s something wrong with your account or order. Be especially suspicious if you don’t have an account with that company or haven’t ordered anything. You could always double-check by opening a new browser window, navigating to the company’s website to sign into your account, and checking to see any error messages on the account.
  10. The email appears to reply to an email you didn’t send. Hackers will try to use this tactic to make you think you sent an email to them, and they’re simply replying with the information you wanted.
  11. Your package is out for delivery, but you haven’t ordered anything. These emails often want you to confirm your address and other information so that they can attempt to steal your identity.
  12. The salutation line doesn’t use your name. Companies won’t address you as “dear,” as in our email example.
  13. The company is sending you an attachment you didn’t request. The cybercriminal wants you to open an attachment that isn’t what it says it is so that they can plant malware on your computer.

Don't click on any links or reply to the email if you suspect you received an email as part of a phishing attempt. Instead, please forward it to the APWG at reportphishing@apwg.org and contact your trusted IT Company for the next steps.

Text Message Phishing Scams

Text message phishing scams are also gaining popularity. People may be less on-guard when reading texts and may fall victim to phishing. Since phishing is a type of social engineering scam, they often prey on victims who will willingly believe the sender is their grandson or friend who needs money, even if the sender’s phone number is from out of the area.

4 Ways to Spot a Phishing Text Message

  1. It appears to be from a trusted company. Some will use ones that say, “Thanks for your AT&T payment. Click this link for your reward.” Again, the scammer wants you to click on the link to steal your sensitive information or gain access to your network. Be especially wary if you don’t have an account with the company.
  2. They’re sending an invoice. Legitimate companies don’t send invoices through text messages.
  3. The payment failed (with a link to make a payment). Never click the link. If payment fails, always verify with the actual company, and double-check against your bank statement.
  4. Eligible for a refund, free gift, prize, coupon, etc. People don’t just give things away for nothing. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

If you get a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726) to report it. If you aren’t sure if the text is legitimate, contact your managed IT company for assistance.

Phone Call Scams

We’re all well-aware of telemarketers and robocalls and how annoying they can be. However, cybercriminals are also using phone calls to steal from you. It’s important to remember that companies like the IRS, your financial institution, and other legitimate companies will never call you to verify your account number. Here are some ways to tell if a call is a scam:

6 Types of Common Phone Scam

An image of a credit card with a small hole on one end and a fishing hook and line lifting it off a keyboard.

  1. You won a prize but need to pay a certain amount to get it. Be especially wary if you haven’t entered any contests.
  2. There’s a warrant for your arrest, and you need to call them back now to avoid the FBI coming to your home.
  3. You need to decide right now whether you want to refinance your home or make changes to your insurance. Legitimate companies give you time to think it over.
  4. You’re being asked to confirm personal information to update your account.
  5. You need to make a payment via wire, gift card, or cash payment app.
  6. You qualify for student loan forgiveness.

At small businesses, sometimes these scammers pose at vendors to try to get you to update your credit card information so that they can steal it. Always be mindful of these potential scams, and keep your employees in the know with cybersecurity training for your IT company.

For More Help Protecting Yourself from Phishing Attempts, Contact a Reliable IT Company

When it comes to phishing attempts at your place of business, prepare yourself and your team for highly sophisticated and seemingly genuine emails, text messages, and phone calls. That’s why it’s critical to have the support of an experienced IT company, like CSU, on your side.

Not only can we help train you and your employees to recognize phishing scams, but we can also help ensure your network is secure and your data is backed up in case of a phishing attempt on your business. Don’t risk losing your company because you weren’t adequately prepared to defend yourself from extremely intelligent cybercriminals.

Contact us today to get started and see how our IT company can help protect your business!

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