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What’s That Smell? Phishing Scams Targeting West Michigan Businesses

Key Points:

  • Phishing scams are rising in West Michigan, targeting businesses through fake bank text alerts.
  • These scams can be costly for businesses, often resulting in stolen thousands of dollars.
  • There are a few simple tips businesses can follow to help protect themselves from these scams, including being aware of suspicious activity and never giving out personal or financial information.

Fraudsters target businesses in West Michigan with phishing scams that look like legitimate bank alerts. The message includes a link to a fake website, where the victim is asked to enter their personal and financial information. This is known as a phishing or “smishing” scam, as it combines elements of both phishing and SMS (text) messages. Anyone who receives a fraud text message like this should not click on the link, as it could lead to their personal information being stolen.

Phishing Scams Are Not a New Phenomenon

The first phishing attack dates back to 1995, but the practice took off in the early 2000s. Phishing is likened to fishing, as the goal is to bait the victim and reel them in both cases. In terms of phishing, cybercriminals can be called “phishermen.”

The cybercriminals, or phishermen, are trying to “catch” as many victims as possible to steal their sensitive information. These scammers use various methods to try to bait their victims, including emails, text messages, phone calls, and fake websites, with text message phishing scams, in particular, on the rise.

While phishing scams are not new, they are becoming more common, with businesses being increasingly targeted. This is likely because businesses have more sensitive information on hand, such as employee data and customer credit card information. The tactics of phishermen are constantly evolving as they look for new ways to dupe victims, and businesses need to be aware of the latest scams to protect themselves.

In The Minds of Phishermen

So, what goes on in the mind of phishermen? What are these cyber criminals thinking when they’re cooking up their schemes? West Michigan businesses need to be aware of how these scams work to protect themselves, and here’s a look at a phisherman’s mindset:

  • Phishermen have an ultimate goal is to make money, and they will stop at nothing to achieve this.
  • They spend hours, even days, planning and perfecting their scams to appear legitimate.
  • Phishermen are patient and will wait for the right opportunity to strike.

Phishermen will often target businesses because they know business leaders are busy and may not have the time to vet suspicious activity properly. Phishermen are aware of current events and trends and will use these to their advantage. For example, they may send out a text message phishing scam that appears to be from a bank, informing the recipient that their account has been locked due to suspicious activity. This is likely to cause panic, as the victim may think that their account has truly been compromised.

Phishermen are counting on the victim being in a hurry and not taking the time to verify the message before taking action. These scams were easy to spot in the early days of phishing, as they often contained poor grammar and misspellings. However, phishermen have become much more sophisticated, and their scams are now very difficult to distinguish from legitimate messages. These scammers often use “spoofed” phone numbers, email addresses, and websites that could lead unsuspecting victims to believe that the message is coming from a legitimate source.

Businesses need to be vigilant to protect themselves from these scams. Education is key, as employees must be aware of the signs of a phishing scam to avoid becoming victims.

How to Smell a Phishing Scam in West Michigan

The smell test is a good way to determine whether or not something is a phishing scam. If something looks or feels fishy, it probably is. Several signs can indicate that a text message is a phishing scam, including:

  • The message is unsolicited and contains a sense of urgency.
  • The message asks you to click on a link or open an attachment.
  • The message requests sensitive information.
  • The sender’s information is spoofed.

Banks and other financial institutions will never ask for your personal information via text message. If you receive a message that appears to be from your bank, do not click on any links or open any attachments. Instead, call your bank directly to inquire about the message. Text messages like the messages below should be treated with suspicion, and you should never respond to them:

  • “Your account has been locked due to suspicious activity. Please click here to unlock it.”
  • “Additional information is needed to complete your last transaction. Please click here to provide the missing information.”
  • “Your bank account has been flagged for review. Please click here to verify your identity.”

Business leaders not only have to worry about employees accidentally clicking on a phishing link but also about cybercriminals targeting the business itself. Phishermen often send out mass text messages, pretending to be from a legitimate organization, like a bank, to get employees to click on a malicious link or attachment. West Michigan businesses cannot afford to let their guard down, as they are prime targets for these attacks.

How to Protect Your West Michigan Business from Phishing Scams

While internal threats, like employees clicking on phishing links, are a major concern for businesses, external threats should not be ignored. Businesses need to take steps to protect themselves from both types of threats. The consequences of a successful phishing attack can be significant, leading to data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage.

  • Data breaches: A successful phishing attack can lead to a breach when sensitive information, like customer credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, is accessed without authorization. Data breaches can be extremely costly, as businesses may have to provide free credit monitoring services to affected customers and may also be subject to fines from regulatory agencies.
  • Financial loss: A phishing attack can also lead to financial loss, as cybercriminals may access bank account information or credit card numbers. They can then use this information to make unauthorized charges or withdrawals.
  • Reputational damage: A phishing attack can damage a business’s reputation, as customers may lose trust in the company if their personal information is compromised. This loss of trust can lead to a decline in sales and an increase in customer churn. There are several steps that businesses can take to protect themselves from phishing scams. Some tips for protecting your business from phishing scams include:
  • Educate your employees: Employees should be trained to identify phishing emails and text messages. They should know not to click on links or open attachments from unknown senders. Employees should also know to report suspicious messages to IT or security staff.
  • Install anti-phishing software: Anti-phishing software can help to protect your business from phishing attacks. This software can filter out malicious emails and text messages, preventing them from reaching employees.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to your business’s accounts. With multi-factor authentication, a code is sent to a secondary device, like a phone, before being able to log in. This code must be entered in addition to the regular password.

These are just a few steps businesses can take to protect themselves from phishing scams. Businesses can reduce the risk of falling victim to a phishing attack by taking these measures.

How Envizion IT Can Help You Sink the Sneaky Phishermen

Envizion IT is a leading provider of IT security solutions. We can help to protect your business from phishing scams with our comprehensive IT and security solutions. Our solutions help businesses detect, block, and respond to phishing attacks. We are committed to helping our clients protect their businesses from phishing scams.

We offer several services that can help to defend your business, including:

  • Consulting services: Our team of experts can assess your business’s current security posture and recommend improvements. We can also provide employees with phishing awareness training.
  • Managed IT services: Our managed IT services can help to secure your business’s network and data. We will proactively monitor your network for threats and respond quickly to incidents.
  • Security solutions: We offer several security solutions, like email protection and multi-factor authentication, that can help to protect your business from phishing attacks.
  • Security assessments: Our security assessments can identify vulnerabilities in your business’s systems and networks. We can also provide recommendations for mitigating these vulnerabilities.

Please contact us for more information on how you can best prepare your business against phishing scams. We would be happy to discuss our services with you and answer any questions you may have.