Bad people have always been a threat, but thanks to the internet age, those bad people are now getting closer and closer to your property management company.
Today, we’re talking about phishing. Several weeks ago, John brought you a blog that discussed spam. Phishing is a bit different, and you need to know the risks and the indicators.
Spam is unwanted communication, which is usually delivered by email. It’s annoying, but it’s technically legal.
Phishing is a criminal activity that involves fraudulent communication designed to get confidential information from you. It’s usually an email or a phone call or a response to a form on your website. The perpetrators will steal your credit card information and take your money, or they’ll sell the information taken from you to other criminals.
Protecting Property Management Company From Phishing:
Identifying and Avoiding Phishing Emails
The most important thing you can do is to be suspicious.
Here’s an example of a phishing email we received last week.
It seemed to be from Quickbooks/Intuit, and the message claimed that our last payment for Quickbooks had not gone through correctly. We were immediately suspicious because our accountants provide Quickbooks for us – we don’t pay for it.
That was the first clue. Our next steps were to ask two important questions: who is this really from, and who did it go to?
- Who did they send the email to?
They sent it to hello @ Fourandhalf. That’s suspicious because it’s the email address dedicated to our incoming marketing messages. Half a dozen staff members receive those emails, so it likely wouldn’t be used for the company’s financial information. That was the first clue.
- Who is the email from?
The email didn’t come from Intuit or Quickbooks. It came from billingintuit.com. That’s suspicious.
These two things alone made us suspect something shady was going on.
Also, the email looked funny. The message was not centered in the email or taking up the normal amount of space. Fonts were different and some places were bold. A low-budget Fix It Now button was available at the end of the message.
This email wasn’t asking us to click on a link or go to another site, and that’s usually what people recognize as a phishing attempt. This email wanted us to call a phone number. That’s also dangerous; people on the other line could be collecting your information by voice. Don’t think you’re safe just because the email isn’t asking you to click on something.
Identifying Phishing Messages from Website Forms
Another example was posted recently on Facebook. Someone wanted to know if a message they received from their website’s contact form was legitimate. They received a message from someone claiming to be a photographer that said the images used on this person’s website belonged to him.
Suspicion is again important.
The fact that the website contact form was used is the first strange thing. It’s not how anyone with a copyright issue would normally get in touch. You’re more likely to receive an email or a letter. You’d probably get a registered letter from a copyright attorney.
If the photos were improperly used and violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, it’s the website host who would be contacted. So, if your site is run by Go Daddy and you’re using someone else’s pictures, Go Daddy would be contacted and asked to take the photos down. You’d be hearing from your hosting company, not the individual themselves.
There were also misspellings and improper grammar, things that are typical in phishing scams.
What Should Your Property Management Company Do?
We have no power to stop this, unfortunately. The best thing to do is to be suspicious. If you’re not sure whether the email or the message you’ve received is legitimate, ask other people. Take a screenshot and share it on social media. Talk to other people in your office. Don’t click on links and don’t call the phone numbers. Never reply to these emails because that simply tells them that your email is real, and that’s valuable.
If you’re a Fourandhalf customer, send anything suspicious over to us. We’re happy to take a look and do a little investigating.
Technology does a lot of great things for us, but it also opens us up to extra risks. Contact us at Fourandhalf if you have any questions about spam, phishing, or any of the other suspicious information online that may threaten your property management business.