When we think of scams, we often imagine people preying on vulnerable seniors, but as scams and fraud get more complex, more people are being socially engineered out of their money—including business owners and employees. Ahead of #PasswordDay on March 15, the Saskatchewan Better Business Bureau, the Saskatchewan Financial Literacy Network and Above the Fold are spreading the word to remind the nearly 150,000 small businesses across the province of what they should watch for.
“Scams and scammers are evolving and getting bolder all the time,” says Karen Smith, CEO of Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Saskatchewan. “Businesses and their employees need to be aware and taking active steps to protect their information—and their finances. And even the best protections need updating when scams change, so we encourage everyone to report any scam or fraud they encounter.”
The BBB has been sharing its National List of Top 10 Scams for more than a quarter century, and there are more than a few for businesses to watch out for. Phishing through fraudulent emails and fake websites can scoop business and financial information; employment scams have cost Canadians more than $4.5 million in the last year, and subscription scams can trick us with free trials and pre-checked
boxes that end in unwanted products and charges.
The Saskatchewan Financial Literacy Network indicates, “Being aware and educating yourself on the types of scams that are affecting Canadians is vital in managing your finances successfully.”
“Online scams are everywhere, and I hear from all kinds of local business owners about their fear of falling victim to them,” says Barb McGrath, Chief Marketing Officer at Above the Fold. “We are a Google-approved agency, so people are comfortable asking me what they can do to keep themselves safe online. Half of small businesses that were fraud victims were contacted by phone, and another 25 percent through websites and mail. The internet can feel like the wild west; I want my fellow business owners to know that there are resources locally that can help them protect their business.”
Lack of information is the top factor keeping small businesses from advancing their security efforts, followed closely by a lack of resources. The lack of understanding and training are other big barriers, but Saskatchewan businesses have access to help through these organizations supporting business. And despite the prevalence of online scams, news stories and word of mouth are still the top ways small business owners learn about scams. From getting training to reporting scams and frauds, these three organizations encourage small businesses to inform and protect themselves, including changing the passwords for their three most important accounts on March 15, #PasswordDay.