4 Tips That Will Help You Avoid Fraudsters During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Unfortunately, the ambiguity around the COVID-19 pandemic has opened more opportunities for fraudsters and hackers. With millions of unemployed people filing new claims and awaiting stimulus checks, some are being deceived by phone calls or emails from scammers pretending to be government or bank officials. Not to forget that while the majority of employees are required to work from home, their personal tech devices have become vulnerable to being targeted by opportunistic scam artists.

Security experts are saying that they’re witnessing a surge in such shadowy activities. Indeed, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning last month advising people to ignore digital communications from those claiming to have pertinent details about checks from the government, among other false claims.

“It’s a Pandora’s box of opportunities that they can leverage,” said Sam Espinosa, an executive at Next Caller, which creates technology to uncover fraudulent calls. 

In a recent survey conducted by Next Caller, 44% of respondents said they felt more susceptible to fraud now that their companies were allowing them to work remotely. In addition, 37% of those surveyed believed that they had been targeted by scams and frauds related to the coronavirus. 

Avoid the traps by following these guidelines:

Get ready for an extended work from home arrangement

Many business owners have found themselves unable to maintain central operations due to office closures, social distancing, and travel restrictions. The answer for many has been to transition very quickly to a remote workforce, using scalable remote access technology. You should provide your workforce with secure access to critical assets and applications to do their job effectively while being alert to the additional threats of remote access. Integrate a strong security and privacy foundation so you can focus on maintaining critical business operations while mitigating exposure to fraud or compliance issues.

Educate your employees on threats

Never forget that your workforce is your first line of defense. According to PwC’s 2020 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey, almost half of documented fraud incidents that resulted in massive losses of US$100 million or more were executed by insiders. As such, reinforcing your company’s code of ethics and reassuring employees of their role as anti-fraud partners are crucial steps during these tough times. Teach them about social engineering, what behavior is expected of them, and the resources you’ve brought in to support them. For example, installing an ad blocker will prevent your browser from loading a suspicious advertisement requesting your personal information.

Communicate with your entire stakeholder team

Aside from your employees, it is important to communicate with your board, shareholders, and business partners. This step is necessary for ensuring all your significant stakeholders are informed of anticipated risks, prevention plans, and emergency strategies. Ensure all communication with stakeholders is specific and timely. According to PwC’s 2019 Global Crisis Survey, 38% of respondents said that communication with external stakeholders is their area of greatest vulnerability in a serious crisis.

Improve your fraud detection

Thankfully, cyber-attacks, customer fraud, and asset misappropriation can be easily identified using fraud detection technologies that utilizes state-of-the-art analytics. However, only 25% of the respondents of the PwC’s 2020 Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey are using artificial intelligence. Though costly, this technology has a clear return on investment, offering accurate and reliable results when it’s needed most. Also, keep in mind that recalibration such as a shift to e-commerce can lessen the number of false-positive fraud alerts and enhance the effectiveness of your fraud detection program.