Once again, bad actors are taking advantage of hurricane victims and the people who open their hearts and wallets to help. Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center(MS-ISAC), a key resource for cyber threat prevention, is tracking an increase in bogus charities and websites recently launched in tandem with emotional images of the storm devastation.

Here’s one example of a scam that went viral after Hurricane Harvey last year. The number at the top of the box was ‘not’ the National Guard.

Considering the increased threats, know the danger signals.

  1. Be alert for phishing emails.Use caution with any email subject lines, attachments, or hyperlinks related to Hurricane Florence—even if they seem to come from a trusted source.
  2. Pay attention to possible text message identity theft.Authentic looking messages appear to come from your bank, the government, or other well-known and trusted organization. Your best defense—don’t text back. Here’s an example of a scam text:“User #25384: Your Gmail profile has been compromised. Text back SENDNOW in order to reactivate your account.” 
  3. Protect theft of personal information. Check out charities by going directly to their website URL, rather than clicking on a link sent to you or seen in a post online. Fake websites often imitate legitimate ones using simple variations in spelling or a different domain (e.g., com vs .org)
  4. Watch for social media fake donation requests. In just the last couple month, the Better Business Bureauhas received dozens of complaints about con artists using Facebook Messenger to promote phony grants. Scammers pose as friends or family and claim you qualify for free money from the government – then ask for key information like your Social Security number to obtain the money.
  5. Crowdfunding is a new source for scammers.If you don’t know who posted the request don’t respond.

Are you prepared?

In today’s technology connected world no business is immune from cyber threats. Bad actors use many creative ways, including current events, to infiltrate devices, systems and networks. People and systems are especially vulnerable to cyber and fraud crime when disasters happen.

Do you have a plan?

Having the latest security software or technology helps but it doesn’t always fix the problem, especially if internal knowledge and training are lacking. Partnering with a qualified managed IT services company is one option to help plan for the unexpected—because as sure as we live, the ‘unexpected’ always comes. As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone thinks they have a plan until they get punched in the face.”