Small Businesses Must Be Cautious of Holiday Scams

The holiday season is a time of stress for a lot of small business owners simply because there never seems to be a moment to take a breath. There are many details pulling entrepreneurs’ attentions in different directions, and that may leave them vulnerable to having themselves or their customers ripped off by opportunistic individuals.

During the holiday season, because so much more attention must be paid to the kinds of problems that can plague a small business at any time of the year, the average owner or employee may not notice the signs that something with which they are dealing online could be a scam, according to a report from Business 2 Community. This can come in a number of different ways, but one of the most common that can have negative consequences for companies and consumers  alike are phishing scams that involve the creation of fake social networking profiles.

In this day and age, it’s relatively easy for a criminal to create a bogus page, particularly for small businesses because they may not have the cachet to go through the verification processes in place for both Twitter and Facebook, the report said. In this way, they may be able to gain the trust of unwitting consumers and obtain their financial account or personal information, which they can then use to commit identity theft. This may become more of an issue during the holiday season in particular because of how eager consumers generally are to shop online during this time. Data from Adobe shows that between Thanksgiving and Black Friday alone, Americans made 400 million visits to shopping websites.

“For hackers, it has never been easier to replicate a Twitter account or Facebook page by simply cutting and pasting the brand’s look to create a fake account,” Hemanshu Nigam, chief executive officer of the online safety consulting company SSP Blue, told the site. “They’re looking to collect your credit card information and once done, the scam might not happen right away – but a shopping spree at your expense is in the future.”

Other ways these scams can work
Of course, the threat for small businesses goes well beyond just the potential for having their brands hijacked for fake social networking accounts, the report said. Crooks might also ramp up their attempts at traditional phishing methods – such as emails designed to gain access to company systems – as a means of gaining access to critical company information, including data on customers or clients. These kinds of data breaches can pose significant threats, and thus owners and workers alike have to be more vigilant about any attempts to contact them that may be suspicious.

For example, emails or other messages which do not come from a recognized domain or entity, contain bad grammar, ask for sensitive information, and so on, are all likely signs of this type of attack, the report said. Moreover, now might be a good time to make sure small business employees are using the most secure passwords for all their various personal and professional accounts so that they’re not able to be easily hacked. The strongest passwords are typically those that contain a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols alike, and do not incorporate common words or phrases.

When owners are concerned about the ways in which they might be targeted by a cyber criminal, it might be wise for them to look into the kind of small business insurance coverage – often referred to as tech insurance – that can help to insulate them from the substantial costs of dealing with the fallout from a data breach.