United States: Protect Your Business From Internet Fraud With 4 Steps

Have you ever gotten a suspicious e mail resembling your company’s name but asking you to click on a link or give them your personal information? Or has someone ever used your company’s trademark to sell counterfeit goods via a fake domain or website?

Internet fraud comes in many different forms and can cause you to lose sales, profits, and most importantly, the trust and goodwill of your customers. When an unknown offender strikes, it is not only your company that falls victim to their attack, but your customers as well. Your customers can easily be tricked into spending money on counterfeit goods, or into giving away their confidential information to malicious “phishermen.”

“Internet fraud” is a general term used to describe the illegal usage of a company name or identity to gain a benefit. “Phishing” is the term used to describe fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and financial account details, by disguising as a trustworthy source in an electronic communication. Any company, big or small, with a trademarked identity, registered domain name, or product line is at risk of this kind of fraud. Even well established companies like Iron Maiden Holding (yes, the band), Amazon and Vera Bradley have fallen victim to anonymous “phishermen.” Internet fraud and phishing excursions are serious—and can be especially frustrating when the offender is anonymous.

If you want to try to protect your company from phishing attacks, or if you suspect your company may already be a victim of phishing or similar internet fraud, here are four steps to consider:

1. Learn how to identify phishing attacks and fraudulent e mails or websites.

The content of a website or e mail is easy to fake, but all websites and e mails are tied to specific URLs. For example, Reinhart’s website and emails all use the URL “reinhartlaw.com.” So if a client were to visit a website or receive an e mail purporting to be Reinhart-based, but which ends with a different URL, the website or e mail is likely fraudulent. Reinhart’s Internet Fraud Action Team can help you identify the different types and sources of internet fraud.

2. Educate and Inform Your Customers.

Inform your company and your customers about the way you conduct business (i.e., how you contact customers, standard language that you use, what URLs and e mail addresses you use, and how a customer can confirm the message or product is not counterfeit).

If you fall victim to internet fraud, promptly inform your company and your customers of the incident, with assurances that you are doing everything you can to fix it. Your message can be as simple as “We are aware of this problem and are working to fix it, and we want you to contact us with any questions or concerns.” Customers will appreciate the fact that you are looking out for them. Reinhart’s Internet Fraud Action Team can help you with such communications.

3. Work with Your Attorneys to Consider Whether Legal Action is Necessary.

Contact competent legal counsel who can advise you on how to address the incident. Your attorneys can work with you to either contact the offending website directly or work within the offending website’s policy to have the offending item or post removed. If the fraudulent activity persists, your attorneys can help you seek formal help through the court system. Now more than ever, companies have taken steps to combat this internet fraud and achieved some relief through the court system including, in some instances, the granting of temporary restraining orders against anonymous “phishermen.” Companies such as Iron Maiden Holdings, Amazon and Vera Bradley have had success with filing temporary restraining orders in court. Reinhart’s Internet Fraud Action Team can help you achieve similar results.

4. Create a Prevention Plan.

Reinhart’s Internet Fraud Action Team can help you create an internet fraud prevention plan specifically tailored to your business, such as registering domain names and trademarks to protect you and your customers. And if anonymous “phishermen” are already causing you problems, Reinhart has a proven action plan to help mitigate the situation. Reinhart’s Internet Fraud Action Team was successful in filing a first of its kind lawsuit in Wisconsin against anonymous fraudulent e mail accounts. By seeking injunctive relief and issuing subpoenas, Reinhart put pressure on the fake accounts’ website of origin, and ultimately stopped the “phishermen” from stealing innocent people’s confidential information.

To protect your company from phishing attacks, or if you suspect your company may already be a victim of phishing or similar internet fraud, Reinhart’s Internet Fraud Action Team can help you by providing an efficient and cost effective plan.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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