Utah DPS warns of gift card scam affecting businesses

Graphic Courtesy: Utah DPS

UTAH, March 31, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Department of Public Safety is warning residents of a scam involving gift cards Tuesday.

“DPS Statewide Information and Analysis Center has seen a recent spike in gift card scams both in Utah and nationwide,” said a news release from Utah DPS. “This scam is typically a Business Email Compromise variant, as cyber criminals will impersonate a senior level employee and ask a subordinate to hurry and get them a gift card because they are in a meeting or traveling.”

The SIAC recently provided the below recommendations geared for businesses or organizations:

Craft a policy for identifying and reporting BEC and similar phishing email scams. Make sure to include the following components.

  • ¬†When receiving unusual financial or sensitive data requests, users should verify the identity, authenticity, and authority of the email sender via non-email channels.
  • Users should ensure that the email is going to the correct person. The true recipient of an email can often be verified by hovering the mouse over the address in the email header.
  • Users should reply by forwarding, and not by hitting the “reply” button, which helps to prevent successful spoofing attacks.
  • Train staff in the human resource and finance departments to identify potential BEC scam emails and follow the suspicious email policy.

Indicators of BEC spam emails can include:

  • Poorly crafted emails with spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • The wrong or an abbreviated signature line for the supposed sender.
  • The use of full names instead of nicknames and a language structure that may not match how the supposed sender normally communicates.
  • That the only way to contact the sender is through email.
  • The transactions are for a new vendor or new contact at a known vendor.

The news release recommends businesses develop a BEC Incident Response Plan including emergency contacts with at the appropriate financial institutions in case it becomes necessary to stop a transfer:

  • Ensure human resource and finance department employees have a policy for out-of-band verifications (e.g. verbal confirmations, etc.) of direct deposit, account changes, or wire transfer requests. Collaborate with human resources and finance departments to ensure their policies are supported by technological solutions.
  • Flag emails from external sources with a warning message in the subject line.
  • Implement filters at your email gateway to filter out emails with known phishing attempt indicators and block suspicious IPs at your firewall.
  • Report BEC scams to the MS-ISAC, local law enforcement, and the Internet Crime Complaint Center here. Tax-related suspicious emails should be reported to the IRS. If there is a financial loss, notify the bank to stop payment and involve local law enforcement.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here