More businesses lost larger sums of money to phone scams in past year

July 22, 2021 | Devin Partida

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

 

Fraudulent phone calls have been an issue for years, and they’re becoming more common. According to a recent report from Truecaller, 59.49 million Americans lost money to scam calls in the past year, costing $29.8 billion. These threats have risen in both number and cost, and businesses can’t afford to ignore this trend.

Small and medium-sized businesses are popular targets for fraud, as they often have less security. Since they also have comparatively more to lose, protecting against these schemes is crucial. Most businesses today understand the importance of internet security, but this report highlights how they should consider phone scams, too.

Why phone scams are on the rise

Both the number of scam calls and their damage have reached all-time highs in the past year. As businesses have become more reliant on remote collaboration, they’ve become more susceptible to spear phishing and related schemes. Phone scammers may have more success targeting companies today because calls and messages about finances aren’t out of the ordinary.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a crucial role in creating a perfect storm of fraud. The uptick in government programs aiming to support small businesses presents scammers with an ideal opportunity. Since employees or business owners may already be expecting someone to contact them about these programs, fraudulent calls may be more convincing.

As workplaces shift amid the work-from-home revolution and digital transformation, it can be challenging for employees to focus. Consequently, workers who may normally be more vigilant about scams may fall for them out of distraction. Moreover these and similar types of crime prey predominantly on people who may feel they’re falling behind financially. Fraudsters understand all these factors, and they’re taking advantage of them.

How scam calls impact businesses

Many people may think of scam calls as a problem primarily concerning individuals. While many of these schemes do target consumers, they may impact businesses more heavily. Companies have more to lose than individuals in a successful scam, and even unsuccessful calls can harm businesses.

Unlike consumers, businesses typically must answer every call they receive. As a result, employees are more likely to hear scams at work that they might’ve ignored had they been on their own. Even if workers recognize it as a scam and know not to give away any information, sitting through the call represents lost time and productivity.

Since scam calls have become so prevalent, businesses may face trouble reaching clients or potential customers by phone. As of 2018, 70% of American consumers have stopped answering calls from unrecognized numbers to avoid scams and robocalls. While this blocks scammers, it can also block legitimate businesses.

Protecting against scam calls

Since these calls are becoming more common and costly, businesses should take steps to defend against them. The most important step is training workers to spot a fraudulent call. Like other types of fraud, these calls often have a false sense of urgency, by urgently requesting sensitive information or actions.

Question anything that claims to be a government source, as government agencies typically send a written statement in the mail before calling. As a rule of thumb, employees should never give out any personal information over the phone, especially to an unknown caller. Similarly, it’s best to establish reliable, secure payment methods and only use these, avoiding wire transfers and pre-paid debit cards.

Finally, businesses should also consider call-blocking tools, which phone companies can typically provide. These services won’t block all scams, but they will stop many of them, helping employees stay productive. Remember to whitelist any regular vendors or business partners when setting up these tools, though.

Businesses must stay vigilant

Today’s businesses face an ever-increasing number of scams from a growing variety of sources. Amid this evolving threat landscape, employees in every industry must understand these threats and look out for them. Knowing what risks a company faces is the first step to protection.

Devin Partida

About the Author: Devin Partida

Devin Partida is a cybersecurity writer, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.

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