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Email Safety Tips For Dealers and Garages – How To Identify The Scams

14th March 2019

Emails are the most practical form of communication in business today. They may be the preferred method of contact for your customers, who opt to progress a sale at a more comfortable and relaxed pace, while staff emails can be quickly and efficiently sent around the dealership. Newsletters and company promotional deals can also arrive, which is handy for viewing when you get a spare moment. There is, however, more than enough dangerous mail aimed at your inbox every day, so how can you tell what’s real and what’s a scam?

Phishing

Claiming to be from a company you would usually trust, such as your bank or HMRC, these phishing emails use scare tactics and identical branding, directing you to follow a link to enter your personal details. Be cautious when receiving emails like this – contact the company directly to confirm it was legitimate if you’re unsure. Do NOT reply to the original email. It’s always important to also double-check the spelling and grammar within the email for errors, as well as the sender’s email address, as an official organisation is unlikely to make such mistakes. Secure websites will also begin with ‘https’, which you should look out for within the browser address bar.

Malware

Similar to phishing, these emails might appear to be from a company you’re familiar with. This time however, there will be an attachment which you are prompted to open. This triggers malicious software to be downloaded onto your pc which can spy on your details when logging onto websites, emails and even online banking. If it’s more advanced, known as Ransomware, access to your computer can even be encrypted and the sender will demand money (usually Bitcoin) in exchange for access to your files. Never open file attachments in an email if you aren’t 100% sure of who the sender is and what the file is in advance.

Extortion

These emails contain a password you may have used somewhere online in the past to get your attention, and claims to have accessed your computer, webcam, email and social accounts. It threatens to send recordings of you accessing adult websites to all your contacts, family and friends unless you pay them a ransom in Bitcoin. Though seeing one of your passwords is unsettling, delete it – they haven’t accessed your computer, they have simply obtained old details of emails and passwords that have previously been leaked online, but it’s a good idea to avoid using the same password across all your online logins and also regularly change them.

Too Good to be True?

Any email trying to scam you should be instantly recognisable and mostly just requires common sense, such as when strangers from abroad inherit a large sum of cash and require your assistance, or when you win the lottery in another country, despite never entering the draw. Remember, if it’s too good to be true… then it probably is!

How to Minimise Financial risk

As car dealers, it’s important to minimise the risks to your business which could be damaging financially, but also the risks to your customers too, who may not be very security conscious when it comes to their computers, email and the internet. There have been cases where through malware, bank details have been substituted in intercepted emails, leading to the customer paying large sums to a scammer’s bank account instead of the company they thought they were paying.

Banks won’t reimburse the funds as they see it as a mistake on the customer’s part, as they made the transfer themselves, and by the time it is identified as fraud, the money has been moved or withdrawn from the scammers account. The customer loses the money and still has to pay the outstanding invoice, which is likely to be a very bad experience for the customer.

With that in mind, it is good practice to avoid emailing your customers with bank details to pay deposits or balance payments for vehicles – instead make a phone call to make sure they have your genuine details before they make a bank transfer. Customers will definitely appreciate the security steps you’re taking and this can help build their trust with your dealership.

Equally, if your business receives an email asking for payment with bank details included, even if it is a supplier you recognise, it is sensible to check the details with them – a quick call could save you from a costly mistake.

Not all scam emails are caught in your email system’s spam filters, so make sure all your staff are aware of how to spot them. Checking email addresses, suspicious grammar mistakes and hovering over any links to preview a URL are basic steps to keeping you safe from dangerous emails, as well as using anti-virus software and regularly updating computer operating systems.

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