How to keep your business safe from fraud and phishing in the COVID-19 era

Sarah Hiraki

 · 04/29/2020  · 04/29/2020

According to the City of London police, there has been a 400% increase in scams related to Coronavirus, in an alarming trend that has become yet another hardship brought on by the pandemic. In a sting operation spanning Europe, Europol identified 2,000 websites selling fraudulent medicines and PPE that were being sold in 90 countries. Such entities fooled even the likes of the Belgian government, who were scammed out of €5 million when they attempted to order a shipment of protective face masks.

Financially, it’s already a sensitive time for businesses across the world, and the last thing you need is to be tangled up in a fraud or phishing scheme. We’ve assembled some information here to help keep you and your money safe.

Coronavirus has inspired new scams

Fraudsters are taking advantage of an increase of remote shopping, banking and working, elevated anxiety about the virus, and an outpouring of support for health charities. While many of these are designed to target consumers, anyone can be susceptible to clicking on a well-disguised link, or downloading a file that looks legitimate. Staying informed is critical to protecting yourself. Here are some of the trends that have been popping up in the past few months:

Online shopping scams

We’re in a perfect storm for dodgy online stores – a huge mass of consumers relying on online suppliers for the essentials, as well as shortages at some reputable retailers. Be wary of retailers advertising products specifically “for COVID-19,” or don’t state clear contact and refund information.

Pension fraud

According to the Financial Times, pension fraud is on the rise, preying on consumers who are looking for a quick way to make ends meet. It’s a good idea to reassure your employees about the security of their pensions, and encourage them not to make any rash decisions about their pensions during this time.

Charity Scams

Unfortunately, concerns about proper funding for medical professionals on the frontlines of the pandemic are also fuelling a rash of charity scams. The Guardian reports that there have been numerous reports of scammers emailing false charity appeals claiming to benefit the NHS and other organisations benefiting health workers. If your organisation would like to fundraise or share donation links, be sure to verify details with the benefiting organisations directly, and only re-share social posts from reputable accounts.

Phishing Emails and SMS

We’ve all been receiving a tidal wave of update emails from businesses in our networks related to the coronavirus update. Many have shared valuable information – such as links to online help pages, downloadable guides, and alternate virtual storefronts.

Scammers are taking advantage of your need to clear your inbox by sending fraudulent emails with phishing links and malware attachments. Never click on email links or download files if you suspect they may be suspicious. If you’re unsure, it’s best to find the information directly on the business’ secure website or through their app. You should be especially wary if the email contains typos, or does not look like communications you typically receive from the brand. If you receive an SMS notification from a brand, the same applies. Never send sensitive data via SMS or email. If in doubt, contact the company’s support via web chat or phone.

Tips for keeping your business account safe from fraud

  • Communicate with vendors only via secure channels such as in-app chat or phone support
  • Use dedicated Revolut Business virtual cards for online shopping
  • Immediately freeze cards if lost or stolen, this can be done in a few taps in your Revolut Business app
  • Monitor your accounts for any fraudulent activity, and report any suspicious charges as soon as you notice them

At Revolut, we do everything we can to keep you and your accounts safe – from being FCA regulated, to developing our own AI tools to monitor accounts for fraud. While we haven’t seen any scammers pose as Revolut or Revolut Business during this crisis, we want to remind you that Revolut will never contact you asking for sensitive information via email or SMS. And that you can access our chat support 24 hours a day via your Revolut Business app.

Learn more about fraud prevention for small business here.

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