BBB warns business owners to watch out for email scams

Local News

Imagine one email costing you thousands of dollars, or, perhaps, your entire business. That’s what could happen if you respond to an email from a scammer. Business Email Compromise is the number one cyber threat, and the focus of the Better Business Bureau’s cyber security seminar. A panel of experts spent Wednesday morning showing small business owners how to protect themselves and stay ahead of cyber thieves.

When the sun is shining, you’ll normally see Don South at his business in Renner. Strawbale Winery needs good weather to make it, that’s why South isn’t thrilled about the storms of 2019.

“You got to take the things they throw at you and make lemonade out of lemons,” South said.

Or, in this case, wine out of grapes. There are threats other than the weather South has to watch for. After all, small businesses are big targets for scammers.

“You know, you always get those crazy emails,” South said.

South and other business owners learned how to better protect themselves from business email compromise. Scamming businesses by taking over emails or phishing is costing companies a lot. According to the FBI, businesses have lost $26 billion in just the last three years.

“You may get that email that says, ‘are you in today?’ And you quickly answer, ‘yes.’ Well, they’re looking and it is a scammer looking for that information to determine what they can send you to obtain money or information,” Jody Gillaspie, South Dakota Consumer Protection director, said.

Gillaspie spoke on the panel. She says phony emails look real, and all scammers have to do is change a letter or two to fool you.

“You really have to pay attention to it. Our mind plays tricks and you kind of see what you need to see,” Gillaspie said.

She says take the time to check the email, and even cross-reference it with someone else or check the company’s site. Don’t click on any links or give out any personal or financial information if you’re worried it’s a scam. South says he hopes what he’s learned at the seminar will help him put a cork in any thief’s plans.

“Once you push send, you have no idea where that’s going. I think that’s why you have to be careful,” South said.

If you need to report a possible cyber crime, you can visit www.consumer.sd.gov. You can also call 1-800-300-1986.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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