Protecting yourself online

Scam stopper website aimed at improving protection

Posted on 7/19/13 1:58:00 PM

As thieves and scammers deploy increasingly clever ways to attack you or your company, a multitude of business protection plans are coming out of the woodwork to prevent malicious or fraudulent attacks from becoming widespread.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is now operating the BBB Scam Stopper website, where consumers can sign up to receive weekly scam alerts with details on all the latest scams or fraudulent claims reported to BBBs around the country. The bureau is partnering with Western Union for the website.

Scams often involve a victim falling prey to a caller pretending to be a grandchild who has been arrested or an email from a friend or relative's hacked account, claiming that person was in an accident. A hacker can also attack small businesses after learning a business password or vital information.

"Emergency scams play off people's emotions and strong desire to help friends and family in need," said Shelley Berhnardt, director of consumer protection at Western Union. "Verify the emergency and resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is."

After hacking into email or social media accounts and targeting the victim's friends and family, con artists will then put out desperate requests for money. Thieves often imitate someone who is out traveling and claim that person has lost a wallet or a passport, had an injury or said they were arrested. Scammers use information from social media or email accounts to garner enough personal detail to make their requests seem genuine.

"The stories are extremely plausible, and many scammers have done their research," said Carrie Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "But you should never send money for an emergency situation without verifying that it's a real emergency. Always check out the story with other family and friends, even if you've been told to keep it a secret."

Seminar for business protection
Tom Allen, a specialist in data security liability, will speak at a seminar that covers all aspects of protection against cyber exposure.

"Cybercrime is one of the largest current day threats facing businesses and one which most organizations do not automatically consider when discussing their insurance requirements," said Nigel Brand, head of professional and financial lines at Sapphire Underwriting. "The cost implications and potential liabilities can be huge – thought to be around $5.5 million on average according to a leading U.S. research institute."

The event plans to cover the legal obligations, the potential costs and liabilities, and the reputational risks at stake during a cyber-security breach.