Remote Workers, Beware These Scam Tricks Disguised as Treats

A scary-looking jack-o-lantern

Most remote workers have been doing so for long enough that they and their company have reputable systems in place for keeping company information private. They may employ a document shredding service for physical papers and may have set up a robust digital defense. Even with all these precautions, remote workers should be more aware than ever before of the scams that are floating around the internet.

As society has adapted to changing requirements and standards, so too have scammers. Today, we’re going to explore a few of the most common tricks a scammer will use to get your information – and how you can avoid falling for the trap.

Public Health Information Phishing

As monitoring the spread of COVID-19 becomes a public health goal, scammers have seized on the opportunity to create some truly subversive means to gain access to either your computer or your personal information. They may send you a link or instruct you to download a certain piece of software under the guise of gathering health tracking information. However, the link will usually include malware, which can grant them remote access to your machine, and the information they request from you will veer along the lines of your personal information, which can then be used to gain access to your accounts.

Never download from a source that seems untrustworthy, even if they purport to be from a respected agency or research organization. You can verify independently, and then use that information to decide whether to proceed or not. If it seems sketchy or suspicious in any way, refuse.

Promises of Government Relief

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into the fall, many state and federal government grants have become available to help companies and remote workers who may be struggling. Unfortunately, this is also a prime opportunity for scam artists, who simply pose as a government worker in order to extract valuable, personally identifying information (PII) from their targets.

The scam is simple and can take place either over the phone, in an email, or even in a physical letter. They’ll explain that you’re eligible for a grant or for free assistance, but to get it, you have to provide your name, address, birth date, or other information.

As with any scam, it’s vitally important that you never give out your personal information or click on any link that you haven’t verified to be legitimate. Stimulus payments are usually provided automatically, and if a grant is legitimate, you should be able to find reporting of that fact through your local newspaper or government. When in doubt, assume it’s a scam, and walk away.

VPN Support From a Business or IT Department

Many companies have turned to virtual private networks (VPNs) to help their employees safely transmit confidential information while working remotely. Unfortunately, scammers have noticed this and transformed it into a fresh opportunity to steal valuable information.

A scammer or group of scammers will target a specific company or business and compile employee information based on what they can freely find through social media. Using these insider facts to gain an employee’s trust, the scammer will then send a link that looks identical to the company’s existing VPN login page. The employee enters in their details, and just like that, the scammer’s in.

If you’re contacted by someone claiming to be from the IT department who serves your company, don’t be afraid to hang up and verify with your company before proceeding.

Staying Safe Offline With Document Destruction

As important as it is to remain vigilant about our online safety, the same must be said for physical security as well. If you’re working from a home office, make sure your door can be locked, and that any confidential or private papers are stored where only you can access them. If you have papers designated for the wastebin that contain personal information, they should be kept in a secure locking container until you can arrange for the appropriate level of document destruction.

To learn more about our document shredding services, give us a call at (602) 759-5103. You can also send us a message online to request more information or for a free quote.