Don’t fall prey to scammers looking to capitalize on bank failures. Stay safe by following these five tips from Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland.
By Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank has created a golden opportunity for scammers. Over the past month, scammers have targeted everyone from businesses to people simply interested in getting the latest news. Scams related to a bank collapse take many forms, but specific tactics are widespread. BBB is advising businesses and consumers to be aware of the following schemes:
Phishing attacks: Scammers may use email, text messages or phone calls to contact consumers, claiming to be from SVB or Signature Bank. They may request individuals to make a payment, withdraw funds or connect a secondary bank account. Consumers may receive these messages even if they never had an account at SVB. Some news sources also report that scammers are using official government statements, such as this one issued by the Department of the Treasury, Federal Reserve and FDIC, to give credibility to their phishing schemes. Remember, just because an email contains some accurate information doesn’t mean it comes from a safe source.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams: Numerous small businesses and startups were affected by SVB’s collapse, which created an opportunity for BEC scams. The collapse caused many companies to transfer funds to different banks. That meant staff needed to change payment details and other banking information. Scammers capitalize on this confusion. In a BEC scam, hackers get to access a business email account and send emails pretending to be a higher-up in a company. The “boss” asks a team member to transfer funds to criminal-controlled bank accounts with legitimate-sounding names and account numbers. If an individual wires funds to the wrong account, the money will be difficult (if not impossible) to retrieve.
Fake website cons: According to The Washington Post, people registered multiple SVB-related domains as soon as the news of the collapse broke. These domains can be used in a variety of scams. Consumers might get a message directing them to a link with a domain name that appears to be from SVB itself. If they click, they could download malware onto their computer or mobile device, and if they enter sensitive information on said website, they could become the victim of identity theft. Scammers may use a similar tactic to imitate other financial institutions or companies that did business with SVB.
Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland is providing the following tips for small businesses to consider in case they encounter a scam capitalizing on a bank failure.
- Think before you act. If you receive a message about a bank collapse, slow down and think about whether it’s coming from a trusted source. Verify the source of the message or call first, even if the sender pressures you to act right away.
- Train your employees. If you own a small business, teach your employees how to spot business email compromise scams and other common cons. Implement processes to keep you safe, such as always verifying a wire transfer by phone before sending the money.
- Never click on suspicious links. If you receive an email (especially an unsolicited one) from a sender you don’t know, don’t click on the links. Do an internet search and go straight to the official website in question if an issue requires you to take action.
- Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers spoof caller ID to lend credibility to their cons. In one BBB Scam Tracker report, the caller ID appeared as “FDIC” and urged the recipient to “claim your account funds in the next 24 hours.”
- Verify the source. If you receive a suspicious email or find yourself on a website that doesn’t seem quite right, take a few minutes to verify what you’re seeing. Look up the website address in your browser to see if you are really on the official site. A few minutes of your time can mean the difference between spotting a scam and falling for one.
Visit BBB.org/AvoidScams for more ways to recognize a scam before it’s too late. Learn how to identify fake websites and phony emails with our tips on how to spot a scam and more about business email compromise scams. Contact Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland by calling 216.241.7678 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in becoming BBB Accredited? Find out how you can apply for BBB Accreditation.