When I started this blog last summer, the plan was to write informational and entertaining business articles every couple of weeks (because they take some time and thought to put together) and also write less formal and more personal journal entries more frequently. The articles are going as planned, but these, the journals, have gotten a little off track. Instead of the everyday things I deal with as a florist, I wrote mini articles. They were focused on a topic and were less about my day-to-day work. It’s ok, but I’m going back to my original plan to share more of my personal thoughts of what it’s like to be a florist and small business owner in the journal. Let’s go.
I’m starting the year off with an email scam that will not leave me alone. In mid-December a couple of customers forwarded me an email they received which they thought might be from my business, LoCoFLo. The emailed offered an impossible 50% or more off on gift certificates for Christmas if they were purchased through Amazon. Most recognized it as the scam it is. But a few asked if was real, and some even fell for it. I was even accused me of violating some customer’s trust and blamed me despite my own victimhood. It sucks and there is damage to my business, but it’s just spam.
But, it kept coming. I was getting a dozen messages a day from customers complaining. What a mess! Every time I receive one of these messages I felt a mix of guilt, stress and anger. This was not something I wanted to be spending my time dealing with.
After a some of research and expert help from customers and friends who are white-hat hackers and work in tech, I had an action plan. I reported the scam to all of the companies involved. I even got the government involved: the FTC and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. I wrote a blog post on my business website and posted warnings about it on social media. I changed all of my passwords and opted into two factor authentication. I pleaded with my customers to block the sender from their inboxes.
I had hope it was over after Christmas, but, ugh, the spam was back modified for New Years. Will there be a Valentine’s Day version of the scam? Is this going to be an annual headache?
I have no idea how this happened. My neighbor who works in IT and is dealing with a hacking incident at the non-profit he works at told me more than 40% of small businesses dealt with a hacking issue last year. As if we don’t have enough to worry about. Issues like this take time away from everything else I have to do and would rather be doing. There are worse problems in the world.