The BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois on Tuesday said scammers are sending texts claiming to be the receivers boss, and using their real-life name in the messages.
"Scammers find out where you work and pose as the CEO or other executive," said Steve J. Bernas, president, and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Be on guard and don’t share money or information – be it your own or your company’s."
Bernas said con artists even attempted to scam the BBB, but the company had processes in place to prevent the scammer from being successful.
Bernas advised consumers to always double-check before sending money, gift cards or information, no matter how believable the reason sounds. Once sent, it will be in the hands of the scammer.
HOW DOES THE SCAM WORK?
You receive a text from a number you don’t recognize, claiming to be from your boss. The sender knows your name, where you work, and your boss’s name. It seems so real.
The text message might read something like this: "Hi Chris, I’m tied up in a conference call right now but let me know if you get this text. Thanks [your boss’ name]."
If you reply that you received the text, you’ll be asked to do a quick task. This could be purchasing gift cards for a client or wiring funds to another business.
In some cases, the scammer may ask you to send personal information to someone, often giving you a plausible reason to carry out the request.
HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF?
- Don’t trust unsolicited messages from unknown numbers. If your boss regularly communicates with you via text message, save their number in your contact list. Don’t respond to potential impersonators reaching out from a different number.
- Be wary of unusual requests. If your boss has never asked you to buy gift cards, think twice, even if the request comes from a number you’ve saved. Scammers can potentially clone phone numbers and hijack your boss’s number to target employees.
- Double-check with your boss personally. If a request comes from an unknown number or doesn’t sound right, call or email your boss first, using their accurate contact information, rather than replying to the message. It’s better to double-check than to rush into a scam. Plus, your boss will want to know if they are being impersonated to warn their other employees.
- If you suspect a scam, don’t reply. If you’re relatively sure a scammer has contacted you, don’t reply to the text message. Replying lets scammers know they have an active phone number and could leave you vulnerable to future attacks. Instead, block the number and delete the message.