Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Avoid Online Year-End Scams
PORTLAND, Oregon (KTVZ) – This week’s Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday segment focuses on building a digital defense as we close 2021.
You’ve made it through the holiday season and you’ve almost arrived at the New Year. There are just a few last minute things you need to watch out for.
First of all – charity fraud. You have until 31st to make those year-end donations to charities so that you can claim that year’s tax deductions.
Charity scams can come to you in many forms – emails, social media posts, crowdfunding platforms, cold calls, or even text messages. Always be careful and do your research.
- Donate to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust.
- Beware of organizations with copy names or names similar to reputable organizations.
- Check the charity’s background on the Federal Trade Commission website.
- Donate using a check or credit card. If a charity or organization asks you to donate cash, gift card, virtual currency, or wire transfer, it is likely a scam.
Let’s move on – there are two more year-end issues we want to alert you to. The first is payroll or benefits fraud. Employees may not be surprised to receive a notification, allegedly from HR, to log in and verify their accounts online as we come to the change in schedule from year to year. As soon as the employee clicks on the wrong link provided in a convenient way, the malware downloads to the system and the wrong actor now has access to your employee’s personal and financial information.
The second concern is with the payroll office itself. While your financial staff are preparing year-end reports, they may receive a bogus email – allegedly from the IRS – asking for Social Security numbers, bank account information, etc.
In both cases, the best defense is a strong attack:
- Train your employees to never click on links or attachments.
- Train employees to never give out login credentials or personally identifying information in response to an email.
- Have employees refer suspicious requests for personal information to IT or HR.
- Make sure that the login credentials used for payroll purposes are different from those used for other purposes, such as employee surveys.
That brings this year to a close. Have a great and safe New Year!
And, as always, if you are the victim of this or any other online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaints Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.