Cyber scams are on the rise – and many target business
emails. According to the FBI, business email compromise (BEC) is a “sophisticated scam that targets both businesses and individuals
who perform legitimate transfer-of-funds requests.” In BEC scams, a criminal poses as a financial institution, business executive, or supplier to gain financial information from another business’s employees. This scam can cost your business thousands – or more. Understanding how BECs work and
what to watch for can help prevent these losses.
First, scammers gain access to a business email account through invasive malware. For example, they may steal a legitimate email address or spoof an account by making a similar one. Next, the scammers use that email address to contact one of the victim’s
business partners or employees – this is where you might get scammed. Finally, the scammer convinces the other party to initiate a wire transfer.
Because the transfer request comes from a legitimate account, it’s harder for banks to spot this fraud.
You can prevent BEC scams by watching for the following red flags in emails you receive from clients or partners.
- Unusual language. Grammar errors, odd phrases, and generally odd language can indicate that someone is impersonating the email sender. Compare the email to others you’ve received from the individual to verify its authenticity.
- Spoof email addresses. These look similar to real emails but often contain different numbers or letters. They might also come from slightly modified domains. You can ensure the sender is authentic by forwarding the email to the address you’ve used before rather than directly replying.
- Urgent language. Emails that use language such as “Pay Immediately,” “Urgent Payment Due,” and “Fund Payment Reminder” can indicate a scam. Before responding, verify that all information is accurate
in your records, and contact the sender by phone.
How to Report Fraudulent Transfers After They Happen
Even if you watch for fraudulent emails, your business email can still be compromised. Contact your financial institution to cancel the payment if you’ve initiated a fraudulent or suspicious transfer or payment. Additionally, contact your local FBI office to report the crime. Horizon Bank takes business security seriously, and our advisors are here to help your business remain financially secure.Call us Contact us View our security center