Personalising marketing emails to customers may help businesses avoid falling victim to email scams, a security expert says.
The advice comes after Consumer Affairs Victoria issued a warning yesterday about an email scam targeting JB Hi-Fi customers and falsely offering free gifts from the entertainment retail chain.
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According to the consumer watchdog, the bogus email tells recipients they are a beneficiary of a program called ‘a wish for your friend’ and to click on a link to choose between selecting a smartphone or tablet device.
In a statement, the consumer watchdog warned consumers to check the provider of any marketing emails to check authenticity before clicking and not to click on links to unrecognisable websites.
AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon told SmartCompany it was likely the seemingly innocuous fake JB Hi-Fi email was of nefarious intent.
But JB Hi-Fi is just the latest Australian retailer to be exploited as part an email scam, with McKinnon saying customers of Woolworths, Coles and Aldi have also recently duped.
“The links tends to lead to webpages that ask a lot of information… even odd questions such as your mother’s maiden name,” McKinnon says.
“It leads us to believe these scams are heading down the identity theft path.”
McKinnon says JB Hi-FI is likely to have been considered an easy target for the scammers because it is a major retailer.
“This is yet another example of a scam relying and trading on the good will of reputable brands,” he says.
“I think for businesses whose brands are widely recognisable, within certain regions, are considered fair game at the hands of scammers.”
McKinnon says while the average smaller business is unlikely to be considered a target for such scams, they should remember scammers did like to “think outside the box”.
“The more widely known your company brand is, the more likely your business’ brand might be used in a campaign like this,” he says.
“Scammers need that wide recognition for it to work.”
“That being said, if a company is known within a certain area and there is an email list available, it is not inconceivable this could happen (to a smaller business),” he adds.
McKinnon says small businesses using emails for regular marketing can do several things to ensure they do not fall victim to a scam.
“The trick is to stay consistent with the process you are using,” he says.
“Use the same email address; have the email formatted the same way. If you can, personalise the emails so that you actually address it to the person’s full name.”
McKinnon says the latter tip is a tactic used by much larger businesses as a way of drawing distinction and offering customers reassurances that they are the real deal.
He says email marketing platforms, including cloud-based platforms such as MailChimp and AWeber, may also be an effective for small businesses.
“These are companies that allow small businesses to very effectively send out mass emails and allow them to be personalised,” he says.
SmartCompany contacted JB Hi-Fi but did not receive a response prior to publication.