BBB Warns of Business Identity Theft

The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin (BBB) is warning businesses to be on guard for signs of having their business’ name used in an identity theft scheme.

A Beloit business reported to the BBB that it has been a victim of a “name hijacking” after learning that a website had been created, nearly identical to its own website. The perpetrators behind the fraudulent website were purportedly using the business name when making threatening phone calls to consumers, seeking immediate payment.

The business, which does computer service and repair, informed the BBB that it had received dozens of calls from consumers throughout the U.S. reporting they received a phone call stating they had committed a crime and needed to make immediate payment or face confiscation of their personal computer.

No known reports of payment have been made so far.

The business owner told the BBB, “I’ve spent a lot of time and hard work creating an ethical, well-established and reputable business. I don’t want something like this to compromise all that I’ve built.”

The owner, who has trademarked his business name, filed complaints with Beloit police and with the FBI’s cybercrime division, wrote to the website host of the fake website in an effort to have it shut down, and also put a “scam alert” on his own site.

A common way scammers hijack business names is with scam websites. Scammers use a business’ URL and existing site to lend credibility to their schemes. In some cases, such as in this case, scammers use a different suffix. For example, instead of “.com” they will use the identical name and “.net.”

“Unfortunately, we have been seeing this type of crime increasing both locally and nationally,” says Ran Hoth, CEO/president of the BBB Serving Wisconsin.  “In many cases, a company doesn’t even know that its good name is being used to defraud until after the con artist has successfully swindled someone.”

While it is difficult to detect when your name has been hijacked, the BBB suggests that you be vigilant. Regularly review your company’s name and address on the Internet to look for any sites or activity using your name that have not been created by you.

The BBB also offers the following signs to look out for:

  • You receive a request to verify orders you didn’t place.
  • You receive phone calls from someone trying to verify an address for your business that is not associated with your company or that you cannot confirm.
  • You receive invoices for storage, shipping or other services that you did not place. Closely monitor all invoices and question any that are not familiar.

To find out more about scams and to report them, check out BBB Scam Stopper.


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Andre' Andropolis January 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM
Here's the first of several Tips to Protect Your Domain: (article excerpts come from an article written by Meridith Levinson from CIO Magazine)
Andre' Andropolis January 15, 2014 at 11:16 AM
1.) Pick an enterprise-class domain name registry. Some specific security practices you should seek out in a domain name: A.) Two-factor authentication or call-back authentication. Harvey says most hijacks his company has seen would have been prevented if the domain registrars had enhanced authentication in place.
Andre' Andropolis January 17, 2014 at 09:13 AM
b.)The capability to place various locks on your domain. Make sure the registry locks and that the registrar locks are on. Businesses can have their actual domain name locked down. Some registrars also offer lock downs to protect against domain hijacking, he adds. c.)A registrar that automatically locks people out after entering, say, three invalid passwords and doesn't send log-in credentials to any email address.
Andre' Andropolis January 18, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Tip to Protect Your Domain: 2.) Keep up-to-date with security patches. Make sure you apply the latest security patches to your web servers so that hackers can't exploit known software vulnerabilities.
Andre' Andropolis January 21, 2014 at 09:03 AM
Tip to Protect Your Domain: 3.) Monitor where site traffic is going. If you see that traffic to your website is mysteriously going to a server in the Ukraine, as it was in the CheckFree case, you know something is wrong.


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