Running an accounting firm keeps you busy, and you probably don’t spend much time thinking about cybersecurity or fraud on a daily basis. However, scammers can target any business — including accounting firms — and if you’re not informed about what a scam attempt looks like, you could easily fall victim to fraud or hand your data over to the wrong person. Learning about widespread email scams and hiring cybersecurity professionals through RushTech Support can help you protect your firm! Here are a few popular email scams and some suggestions you can implement to avoid being a target.
You may have heard the term “phishing” before, but you might not know how it works or why you should be wary of phishing attempts. Forcepoint states that phishing can describe any attempt to extract confidential information under deceptive circumstances through email or over the phone. For instance, you might receive an email from an unknown address containing a URL that looks legitimate, but clicking on it will harvest your sensitive data for a cyber attacker. Downloading a corrupt email attachment could also install malware on your computer. To avoid falling victim to a phishing attempt, do not download attachments or click on links from unknown senders, and be suspicious of emails with poor spelling and grammar.
They usually involve a scammer posing as a legitimate organization, such as a bank or a government agency, and sending an email to a victim asking for sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or personal identification numbers (PINs). The email might look convincing, but it’s important to remember that legitimate organizations will never ask for sensitive information over email. To protect yourself, always verify the identity of the sender before responding to any emails that ask for sensitive information.
You check your inbox to find that your firm has received an offer for inclusion in a regional business directory. You might respond affirmatively, assuming that having a listing will help you drum up more business — but this could turn your data over to scammers.
Directory scams are relatively common. The cyber attackers behind these scams send emails to small business owners giving them the chance to join a business directory for a small fee – but the directory may be a front for an illegitimate company, or it may not even exist. Business Know-How suggests training your staff to spot these seemingly innocuous offers and verifying the status of any business directories before joining.
You receive an email stating that your firm is being offered an award. However, you’ll need to pay a fee to get this award. You feel suspicious, but you’re honored that your firm is being recognized for their hard work — what’s the harm in replying?
Unfortunately, scammers often target small business owners with fake “vanity awards.” It’s only natural to feel flattered when you’re offered an award, but don’t let the complimentary distinction fool you! When you go to pay for this “award,” your credit card information could be stolen, granting the scammer access to your firm’s accounts. If you are offered a real award, you should be able to verify that the awarding body is legitimate and well-respected in your industry.
You send and receive countless invoices every month, and you basically rely on your invoicing software to store and organize them; after all, you don’t have the time to do it manually. But what if you receive an email with a fraudulent invoice for a service you never used?
There are several indicators of fraudulent invoices, including an abnormal volume from a particular vendor or an invoice for goods that cannot be accounted for. Keep in mind that internal invoice fraud by employees is also possible. Investing in an automated invoice matching system as part of your accounts payable solution can remedy the issue.
They involve a scammer posing as a vendor and sending an email to an accountant requesting payment for an invoice. The email might contain a fake invoice or an attachment with malware that can infect your computer or steal your data. To protect against invoice scams, always verify the authenticity of invoices before making any payments. If you receive an unexpected invoice, contact the vendor directly to confirm its validity before making any payments
Protect Your Business
If you don’t have the time or expertise to manage your firm’s cybersecurity protections on your own, hiring a professional is a smart idea. Contracting with a freelance cybersecurity professional can be a boon for your business. There are a wide variety of titles for IT professionals working in this field, so it’s important to outline what your general security needs are before you hire anyone. You may be in need of an information systems security manager, a security architect, or a data security analyst.
How can you find a freelance cybersecurity professional? Check out online job boards! To decide who to hire, check out their reviews, their prices, and their delivery timelines.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) Scams
BEC scams are a type of phishing scam that targets businesses. They involve a scammer posing as a company executive or a trusted vendor and sending an email to an accountant or other employee requesting a wire transfer or other financial transaction. These emails often look legitimate and might even contain information that seems to support their legitimacy, such as the name and title of the person they are impersonating. To protect against BEC scams, it’s important to establish a protocol for verifying all financial transactions, including verifying the identity of the person requesting the transaction.
Ransomware involves a scammer sending an email with an attachment that contains malware that can encrypt your computer files and demand payment in exchange for the decryption key. These emails often use fear tactics to pressure the recipient into making the payment, such as threatening to delete or publish sensitive data. To protect against ransomware scams, it’s important to keep your antivirus software up-to-date and avoid opening attachments or clicking on links in unsolicited emails.
Have You Been Scammed?
What if you did accidentally give a cyber attacker access to your data? You’ll need to alert your employees and clients about the potential data breach and contact the bank that you use if your accounts were potentially compromised. Furthermore, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau to alert other business owners. Getting in touch with a cybersecurity provider for urgent assistance is also a good choice.
Countless business transactions are conducted online every day. You probably require several software programs to run your business effectively. However, if you’re not careful, your accounting firm could experience a data breach or another critical security issue. By staying up to date on common scams, learning the warning signs of scammers, and hiring professionals to help keep your firm safe, you can rest assured that your firm is secure.
Does your accounting firm need a cybersecurity provider? Tech 4 Accountants can help you create and implement an effective security plan! Contact us today for an IT audit.