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The CSO's Guide to Combating Brand Impersonation and Phone Scams
Brand impersonation is a deceptive practice where fraudsters falsely use a company's name or likeness to gain trust and deceive individuals, often as part of phishing or vishing campaigns. It poses significant threats to a business's reputation, customer trust, and financial stability.
As Chief Security Officers (CSOs) navigate the complex cybersecurity landscape, one challenge that demands attention is brand impersonation and phone scams. These threats damage company reputations and the brand, eroding customer trust. In this blog, we'll explore how CSOs can develop a robust security strategy to combat these challenges and protect their organizations from the adverse impacts of unwanted robocalls, including unauthorized brand name usage over the voice channel.
In this article, we will discuss:
- Understanding Brand Impersonation and Phone Scams
- The Role of the CSO in Protecting Against Impersonation Attacks
- Leveraging Technology to Detect and Mitigate Phone Scams
Understanding Brand Impersonation And Phone Scams
Brand impersonation is a deceptive practice where bad actors use a company's name or likeness to deceive customers. This is often done as a part of a often vishing (voice phishing) campaign, where the scammers are looking to get information from someone, and use brand impersonation to create trust. (In reality, of course, they are ultimately badly damaging that customer’s in the brand.)
These scams can take many forms, such as:
- offering a free vacation … if you just give them some personal information and money
- service center calls — your computer was hacked, and we’re here to help. Just install this malware.
- loan scams — claiming to be a known organization offering you a loan, but just looking for your information
- phony debt collectors
- fake charities
- Medical alerts or scams against seniors
- Fake IRS scams or saying that there is a warrant out for your arrest
The consequences of falling victim to these scams can be severe, leading to financial loss and/or identity theft for the victim.
The impact on businesses is significant. Not only do companies face the risk of financial loss, but their reputation and customer trust are also at stake. These scams diminish trust in the brand, tarnish the brand’s image, damage customer relationships, and can result in direct costs such as legal fees, increased bill challenges, goodwill refunds, customer service expenses, lost accounts, and more.
As such, proactive brand reputation management is essential. This involves monitoring for unauthorized use of the company's brand, identifying potential threats, and taking swift action to mitigate the impact. Businesses can do this internally or can use a brand reputation management tool. These services can monitor what is said about their brand on social media, chat sites, and other online media. They are highly automated and some even include human and AI-based intelligence that identifies consumer perceptions, enabling the brand to spot trends and respond to any misperceptions.
The Role Of The CISO In Brand Impersonation Attacks
As the quarterback of an organization's security strategy, the CSO plays a critical role in safeguarding against brand impersonation and phone scams. The CSO's responsibilities include identifying vulnerabilities that could be exploited by scammers, educating employees and customers on how to recognize and report suspicious activity, and coordinating incident response in the event of an attack.
Collaboration is key. CSOs must work not only with their internal security team, but also closely with communication carriers to block unwanted robocalls and trace their origin, and with partner organizations. Legal teams can also play a vital role in deterring brand abuse through litigation or supporting prosecution against bad actors. By taking a proactive and collaborative approach, CSOs can effectively mitigate the risks associated with brand impersonation and phone scams.
Leveraging Technology To Detect and Mitigate Phone Scams
In the fight against phone scams, technology is a powerful ally. Consider solutions such as YouMailPS's Brand Defense and Brand Monitor. Their patented service provide zero-hour identification of unwanted robocalls and full-spectrum protection against vishing attacks. But it’s not easy.
Services such as this leverage real-time audio collection, content-based analytics, and audio fingerprinting to detect and eliminate imposter traffic. For example, YouMailPS is (obviously) affiliated with YouMail, which has literally billions of data points from their consumer based fraud protection service. They can use these datapoints — such as a voicemail left by a fraudulent actor — to determine if your company name is being used in scam calls, where the calls are coming from, the timing, the networks, and so much more information.
The YouMailPS Brand Defense product, for example, offers protection against vishing attacks, incorporating alerts, reporting, mitigation, and enforcement. It addresses threats to enterprise identity due to fraudulent robocalls, including brand impersonation over the voice channel. It is a fraud management solution designed to mitigate enterprise damages and deter recurrence of brand abuse. Brand Defense customers benefit from a comprehensive solution that incorporates support for litigation against bad actors.
YouMailPS also offers Brand Monitor, which provides surveillance of brand identity over the voice channel, notifying customers of potential trademark infringement or inappropriate brand mentions. Brands are informed regarding the potential impact of impersonation incidents, including call volume of bad actor campaigns.
The key, as a strategic CSO, is to have a method to access critical voice channel data about your brand over a range of calls, and the infrastructure to support notifications, information collection for litigation, and AI/ML processing as well as human intervention.
Brand impersonation and phone scams pose significant threats to businesses, but strategic CSOs can combat these challenges. By understanding the tactics used by scammers, implementing a comprehensive security strategy, and leveraging cutting-edge technology, CSOs can protect their company's reputation and customer relationships. With the right tools and strategies in place, organizations can detect and eliminate imposter traffic, providing vishing protection against brand reputation damage.
Upgrade your brand impersonation and phone scam defense strategies. Contact YouMailPS today for a no-obligation strategy session on what you can do to better defend your brand.
FAQs About Combating Brand Impersonation
What is brand impersonation and how does it affect businesses?
Brand impersonation is a deceptive practice where fraudsters use a company's name or likeness to deceive customers, often in vishing (voice phishing) campaigns. This activity severely damages the company's brand reputation, diminishes customer trust, and can lead to financial losses from legal fees, customer service expenses, and lost accounts
What are the typical forms that phone scams can take?
Phone scams can come in many forms, including offering fake free vacations, fake service center calls, loan scams, phony debt collectors, fake charities, medical alerts scams, and fake IRS scams. These scams often result in the victim suffering financial loss and/or identity theft.
What is the role of a Chief Security Officer (CSO) in preventing brand impersonation attacks?
The CSO plays a vital role in protecting against brand impersonation and phone scams. Their responsibilities include identifying potential vulnerabilities, educating employees and customers on how to recognize and report suspicious activities, and coordinating incident responses in case of attacks. They also collaborate with internal teams, communication carriers, and legal teams to deter and respond to brand impersonation incidents.
How can technology be leveraged to detect and mitigate phone scams?
Technology, such as YouMailPS's Brand Defense and Brand Monitor, can be used to identify and eliminate unwanted robocalls and provide protection against vishing attacks. These services leverage real-time audio collection, content-based analytics, and audio fingerprinting to detect fraudulent calls. They also offer support for litigation against bad actors, notifying customers of potential trademark infringement or inappropriate brand mentions.
How can businesses upgrade their brand impersonation and phone scam defense strategies?
Businesses can enhance their brand impersonation and phone scam defense strategies by understanding the tactics used by scammers, implementing a comprehensive security strategy, and leveraging advanced technology like YouMailPS. By doing so, businesses can effectively protect their reputation and customer relationships, as well as detect and eliminate imposter traffic.