Think Before You Click

Tuesday April 24, 2018 | Filed under:

A few short years ago, we rarely used words like “battle,” “fight” and “attack” to describe an episode at a business. Welcome, sadly, to 2018, when computer viruses and online scams are so prevalent, being “under siege” is now all too commonplace.

Most recently, ASI’s Counselor PromoGram reported a breaking news story on computer criminals who appear to be targeting the promotional products industry with a virus that has the ability to disrupt and paralyze companies’ computer networks, email and phone systems. The virus comes in an email that purports to be from a customer asking the recipient to click on a link to complete a form related to shipping information. Clicking the link, which can come in a PDF too, launches the virus.

“It spreads very rapidly throughout your computers and your servers,” one victim told us. “I’ve been in the industry for 35 years, and this is probably the worst virus I’ve ever seen. No one should click that link.”

For more details, read PromoGram and visit for in-depth coverage of these and other issues of importance to our industry.

Make no mistake: Viral attackers and online scammers are as criminal as the thieves who put on masks and knock off the local mini mart. But instead of a few hundred dollars in the cash register, they can potentially knock out your business for hours, days and even weeks.

In 2017, fraudsters stole about $16 billion from scam victims. Ransonware attacks alone have doubled. Data breaches and the theft of personal financial information impact hundreds of millions of people in one fell swoop. No one is immune. Not long ago, an ASI employee was victimized by a fake email that resulted in the loss of $2,200.

The increasing importance of cybersecurity prompted ASI to expand our global security program and to routinely email members warning of potential scams, like the one that targeted a small handful of suppliers struck by thieves posing as distributors and using stolen credit cards or a stolen ASI number to place orders.

We are all responsible for being vigilant and preventing our companies and employees from becoming victims of such scams. Remember, if you have the slightest doubt, pick up the phone and call the person to verify the request. Bottom line, if you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a request, don’t fulfill it.

If an email requests money, gift cards, a wire transfer or anything of value, before you do anything take the following steps:

  • Look at the email address of the sender. Is there anything that looks wrong? For example, is it from a personal account rather than a business address? (If you hover over the address, it may show you it is a non-business address.)
  • Is the normal block signature missing?
  • Are you receiving a request from a person from whom you normally do not receive a request? For example, is a finance officer asking you to do something like send money that he’s never asked you to do before?
  • Is there a rush to take the action? For example, does the request state that it needs to be done immediately or that it is an emergency?
  • Does the language in the email sound right? For example, poor grammar and/or use of English?
  • Are they asking you for numbers on gift cards or any other type of numbers, for example, banking information, or other confidential company or personal information?
  • Does something not feel right to you?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it's probably a scam.

And if you think only older people give money to Nigerian princes, think again. A study by the Better Business Bureau shows that younger people – who live online – are actually more susceptible to scams when compared to older people. The study showed that more than 30% of 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed had fallen for a fraud, and for those between 18-24, 15% claim to have been victims. By comparison, the 75+ age group comprised less than 5% of scam victims.

Click here for a government-run website with info on what scams to watch for and reporting scams should you fall prey to a scam.

It pays to be vigilant. Think before you click.