Let’s not go phishing

Home alone? Watch out for scammers with offers that are too good to be true.

Let’s not go phishing

Jane Shelton

Everyday, all around the globe, people are being urged to see the internet as their newfound friend and source of easy-to-run home-based business income. Just today I was invited to watch yet another movie that would make me one of the first people in the world to have a win-win home-based business at less than $US20 per month, and save $100 a month in the process.

(For those who read the rest of this blog as a precautionary tale I will include direct access at the end to the movie promo and spam message to get your email details, but only after I again warn you and stress that this is an example of hundreds of similar “Wouldn’t it be great” scam schemes .)

The internet is fertile ground for scammers seeking to exploit your desire to run a home business. People desperately seeking to establish a home-based business can be vulnerable to frauds, scams and con artists.

You may be focused on getting your business off the ground and flat out running the business, but a con artist could be focused on getting into your bank account or securing your personal identity for their own selfish advantage using advanced IT systems.

Last week our internet host provider was down and out for the count while an investigation was made into a phishing exercise that some unscrupulous internet deviant had filed on to the server.

We know of people losing thousands of dollars to schemers who have copied their banks formats and gulled professional and business leaders into expensive learning curves on the web. Just ask the Federal Police how many of these scams they are tracking for overseas authorities who know it is just about impossible to police these emerging rackets.

Not everyone in business is above board or acts with your best interests at heart, and the internet has become the home for a wide variety of very unsavoury types who prey on your kids or on families wanting to make savings. So let’s just look at phishing as an example of the traps for home-based business operators.

The security division of a Singapore company released its fourth annual Financial Institution Consumer Online Fraud Survey earlier this year, and found that less than 65% of respondents in Australia and Britain (70%) claimed to be familiar with the term “phishing” compared to 83% in the US.

The online survey asked 1678 adults from eight countries for their opinions on evolving fraud threats such as phishing, vishing and keylogging, and on the efforts of their financial institutions to strengthen remote channel banking authentication.

Phishing involves fraudulent emails directing the unwary home business operator to a seemingly real corporate website. The website then asks for personal and credit card or banking details. If you find yourself curious about this kind of site, don’t give your details, phone the service provider or bank to check the credentials of the site.

Only give your details on a secure, encrypted website that you know represents the organisation you are supplying your details to.

As financial institutions work to accelerate their businesses by driving additional people online and introducing new online features and functionality, the Singapore eight-country survey results indicate that security must be addressed in order to maintain trust in the internet and boost consumer confidence online.

Four out of five account holders expressed that, as a direct result of scams such as phishing, they are less likely to respond to an email from their bank. In addition, more than half of the survey respondents (52%) said that they would be less likely to sign-up for or use online banking at all as a result of these scams

It’s good to use firewalls, de-bugging your computers, encrypting your sensitive data and communications. But also don’t be curious about the spam you receive. If you reply to them, even if it’s to say “get lost” (in a less than polite way), once they know they have a live, real person on the end of their emails, that’s when they have you in their sights.

Even consider the security of your home-based business around the house. Don’t leave business chequebooks lying around the house – have a secure area that you can lock up in case of a break-in. Shred and dispose of PIN numbers and don’t leave access numbers in a form that could be stolen and used against you.

If you have been phished, learn from your mistakes, report it to the authorities, get good computer security advice and give yourself the space and time to put in place defensive strategies to beat the phishing and fraudulent parties.

I plan to write about your intellectual property and how you protect it, but for now be warned and have a close look at the latest example of a “too good to be true” new home-business opportunity video.

But before you view it, lock up your credit cards and open your mind to the way you are being invited to become one of the first people in the world to add to their wealth . Have a close look at the way that these people even offer protection against spam attacks by getting you to give them your email address with the words “We take all spam complaints very seriously. To date we have inactivated 22 users for spam abuse issues!” 



Dr Jane Shelton not only runs a business from home but is doing business research into people working from home. She is managing director of Marshall Place Associates, Melbourne’s independent think tank, and CEO (honourary) for ‘Life. Be in it.’ International. Shelton has a Doctorate in Business Administration at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) at Swinburne University of Technology after a Master of Arts in Public Policy at Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Business in banking and finance at Monash University.

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