Wiring money is an effective way to send large amounts of cash around the world. Because of that capability, it is a common target for fraud and scams. Although wire transactions go through many levels of security at the bank, they are hard to stop once they are initiated, making it imperative that you validate the recipient and reasoning behind sending any money. A wire payment is often a non-reversible transaction that can leave you holding the bag if you’re not careful.
Wire Scam Red Flags
Any time you wire money somewhere, you should be certain that you are making the right choice. Keep an eye out for the signs that you should not send the transaction. These red flags indicate that something is not right, and that you should stop and get more information before proceeding. If you are ever in doubt about the validity of a wire request, it’s best to reach out by phone to their verified number to make sure that it’s real.
Keep an eye open for these red flags:
-You don’t know the person requesting the wire.
-The request is pressuring you to send money quickly.
-You weren’t expecting a wire from this person, or the amount is higher than expected.
-They request the wire through email, and their email includes misspelled words or poor grammar.
-This person has never asked for a wire before.
-They request comes with a threat or a consequence for failing to send payment. (E.g., legal retribution, late fees, or loss of an opportunity.)
Common Wire Scams
While wire scams can be initiated in numerous fashions, there are some common scams that manage to swindle more people than you might expect. These are the ones to watch out for. Familiarizing yourself with these scams now will help prevent you from becoming a victim.
– The Executive Ask
This common wire scam comes in the form of a text, email, or message from someone pretending to be an important member of your company. They declare that they are unable to access funds for some reason and need you to wire them money ASAP. These requests are impossible to ignore. Because they are framed as highly time-sensitive, and originating from a very important member of the company, unsuspecting employees can be scared into quickly sending a fraudulent wire transaction. If you notice an email matching this description, reach out directly to the executive to ask. You may not be the only employee who received such a request.
– The Tech Support Scam
This complicated scam involves a fake computer technician who promises to solve your technology problems. The scammer may have planted malware on your computer, or they will try to convince you that they have done so. They will often request that you wire money to pay for their help fixing your computer. Remember that legitimate tech support will never ask for payment through a wire transfer. If someone requests remote access to your computer, hang up the phone and power off your PC until you can get a real technician to fix any problem you are having.
– Ransomware Extortion
Ransomware is a kind of malicious computer virus that locks your computer until you give the scammer what they want. Usually, these programs will demand payment through wires or cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, even if you pay the requested amount, there is no guarantee that the hacker will let you back into your computer. Never send a wire at the request of a hacker or fraudster. Instead, shut down your computer and seek help through other means.
– Business Email Compromise
Businesses and official representatives are prime targets for phishing attempts. If an unsuspecting employee clicks a link in a spam email, then they can open their company to a huge security breach known as Business Email Compromise (B.E.C.). Criminals wreak havoc when they gain access to an official email address. They often target lists of clients and customers, sending requests for money or bad links to serve their own malicious purposes.
You can protect yourself from potential scam emails by carefully considering the request through the email, and not clicking any links until you are certain that they are safe. Keep an eye out for poor grammar, urgent requests, or threats – these are red flags that the transaction is likely a scam.
Protecting Your Business from B.E.C.
Business owners should be vigilant in protecting their company from Business Email Compromise. Any breach of company security endangers clients who fall for the scam and alienates those who don’t. You can avoid a catastrophe by scheduling frequent training for employees to recognize and report suspicious emails and messages.
Create a contingency plan to follow in case your business email is compromised. If your company has a breach of security, immediately inform your customers and contacts, and urge them to delete any emails from your address. Damage control is much easier before any real harm is done, so quickly enacting your plan can save you time, respect, and money.
– Overpayment Scam
This is a scam that appears innocent and plays on your better nature. The scammer overpays you for a good or service, whether online or through a check. Once you realize that you have been paid too much, they request that you wire them the difference. After you send them the money, the check they sent bounces, and they escape with the wired money. If someone pays you with a check that is too big, don’t wire them the difference. Instead, contact your local banker and they can help you sort out the situation.
Paying attention to the circumstances around wire transfers will help protect you from scams. Remember to take your time, examine the situation, and wait until you feel comfortable before proceeding with the correct action. if you think it might be a scam, it’s not worth the risk. Once you know this you can confidently use wires when needed.