-Suspicious of an email you received asking for private business information?

-Alarmed when someone calls you claiming to be your local bank, but you are unsure?

-Receive a pop up claiming your computer has been hacked?

All of these are questions that you should think about as a business owner before you provide any confidential information to a third party. Now is especially the time to be wary, as scams are on the rise. Of late, here at NorthStar, we have been receiving calls from a fair number of clients experiencing fraud attempts or scamming games. One such instance is fresh in my mind as it occurred just this week. 

Our client received an email from what he thought was his payroll processor. It stated that his subscription was due for renewal. This is a common yearly email one would receive from their processor. 

They went on to claim that they “tried to charge your card/account XXXX for your… subscription. The payment was not successful…”  Unwittingly and believing the email to be true, our customer called these scammers and gave out his bank information. Once the customer realized he had made a mistake, he immediately reached out to us to help him deal with the situation.  

As soon as he sent us the copy of the fake email notification, we immediately noted that it does look eerily like this payroll processor’s normal emails. However, upon closer inspection, one can pick out differences and tell-tale signs that all is not right. The color scheme that the payroll company uses is the same. However, the font that the company would normally use is not in alignment with what the scammers used. The layout of the false email is not even and eye appealing like a true email from their actual processor would use. The scammers also used a trademark at the bottom of their email that was dated 2017 and not 2021. Additionally, the scammers did not provide an invoice number, invoice date, and description of normal payment method that the normal payroll processors provide in their emails.

In the end, our best advice is to do your research before you give out any confidential information to a third-party. If you think something is amiss with the email you are receiving, be sure to dig deeper before panicking and acting on impulse. Refer to previous emails to see if the current email is in alignment with ones that you have received in the past. Call your third-party company from a trusted phone line, reach out to a known representative that you normally work with, or simply login to your account to confirm all is right before calling a suspicious phone line and providing them with financial information. Ask a co-worker or employee to see what they think about a suspicious email because having a second set of eyes is always helpful. If you do receive a fraudulent email, be sure to pass it on to the third-party company you do business with. 

The third-party company needs to be made aware of the situation so that they can alert other customers and prevent others from being defrauded. As evidenced by the situation written about above, now is especially the time to protect your business and livelihood by taking those extra steps to vigilantly read through your business emails before giving out any sensitive information.

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