Wisconsin Better Business Bureau
Press Release

BBB Scam Alert: Working from home? Beware of scams targeting at-home workers

 

By - Apr 6th, 2020 07:13 am

Milwaukee, Wis. – Many companies are quickly making arrangements for employees to work from home, and others are fast-tracking policies to meet the requirements of shelter-in-place orders issued by state officials. These actions are making it an even higher risk of people being targeted by scammers, especially through phishing emails or through an unsecured network connection.

Transitioning from an office setting to home, many may find themselves more vulnerable to tech support scams. With limited IT resources available, employees may attempt to solve technical issues themselves when confronted with pop-ups and virus alerts. BBB Scam Tracker received a report of a victim losing nearly $250 to a tech support scam. The report stated a pop-up window appeared when the user’s computer froze. The instructions on the pop-up window said to contact a company claiming to be affiliated with Apple. After following the directions, the consumer paid for what they thought would fix the problem and never heard from the tech support company again.

Another concern for employees transitioning to a work-from-home environment is Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams. BEC scammers impersonate emails that appear to come directly from the boss. These fraudulent emails are often used to request large payments to “vendors” via wire transfer. While this is a common scheme, scammers may change their approach and use current events as a way to convince the recipient to take action. Compromised business emails may be used to request payments for things such as reimbursements, bogus invoice payments, or office equipment.

Advertised work from home opportunities aren’t always what they seem, especially for people who have recently been furloughed or laid off.  Employment scams are ranked the top riskiest scam in both the 2018 and 2019 Scam Tracker Risk Report.  A common red flag to make note is the opportunity to work from home and what seems like a high hourly wage with minimal effort.  However, as more employers practice social distancing and require employees to work from home, differentiating between legitimate and fraudulent job opportunities will become more difficult.

While working from home and watching to see how the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak develops, here are some tips from Better Business Bureau to avoid falling victim to scams:

  • Be aware of unusual procedures. Job offers without interviews are a red flag of employment scams, as well as employers that overpay and ask to wire back the difference. Take note of companies that promise opportunities or high income if you pay them for training.
  • Check official job postings. Scammers will often use emails, social media or online job boards to reach targets. They are also known to use actual company names, addresses and human resource contacts found on the internet. If a job posting seems too good to be true, go directly to the company website and check their career page directly. If a website is charging you for information about a job opening, it is probably a scam.
  • Set up work-from-home IT policies. When setting up remote employees, establish a plan to help them with technical problems they may face. Instruct them on who they should contact, and who to avoid, for tech support. A plan can protect employees, the business and your customers from having their personal and professional information compromised.
  • Maintain office billing policies at home. One of the best ways to combat business email compromise scams is to set a policy requiring employees to confirm payment requests in person or over the phone, rather than over email. If the employees that handle billing are working from home, have them maintain these policies by calling to confirm any payment requests made by email.
  • Review safety practices with employees. As employees are working remotely, remind them of the best practices to avoid scams. Practices such as avoiding clicking on pop-ups or links in unsolicited emails are encourage and if they aren’t sure of the origin of an email, have them contact a colleague or supervisor by phone. Make sure they know tech support professionals would never call them unless they had requested assistance first.

For more consumer and business tips on COVID-19, go to BBB.org/CoronavirusBBB.org/smallbusiness, and follow on social media using #BBBDelivers.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.

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