BE alert, cautious and careful - that is the message from two Horsham-based businesses who have been hit by online scams in the last fortnight.
Horsham Concrete and Des Larnder's Organic have both been affected by two different online scams, adding headaches to what is already a difficult time for small businesses.
Horsham Concrete are working with Telstra to find out more details about an attack that affected their emails and phone network, and led to one employee losing money through their PayPal account, which was linked to the debit card on their phone.
Horsham Concrete's Pauline Schmidt said it was a reminder to be cautious online.
"The first thing was, Telstra sent me an email saying thank you for resetting your password. I thought, 'What?'" she said.
"Then they changed my Facebook password, PayPal ... I couldn't keep up."
While the online world was unkind to Ms Schmidt, she said the staff at Telstra Horsham were "very impressive" in handling the matter.
"You can't beat having humans to help you out. If we didn't have that, I don't know what I would have done, or what might have happened," she said.
The employee has also since been reimbursed by their bank.
Des Larnder's Organic in Horsham was also hit by an online scam targeting his emails.
"I got about 25,000 emails in one day, which was a bit of a shock," Mr Lardner said.
"We've had to close our account and start up another one - it's got our computer too. It's very sad when you accumulate years of information then have to throw it away."
Mr Lardner said the scam happened shortly after receiving a "very legitimate-looking" email from ASIC, which turned out to be spam.
Business Horsham have warned businesses to be aware of the ASIC email.
"It's very sad when people do this sort of thing to other humans. It's very tragic," Mr Larnder said.
"Apologies to anyone that got a scam email from us as well - if anyone is getting an email from Des Lardner, they should delete it straight away."
Horsham IT Consultant Jon Fitzgerald said hackers were becoming "cleverer and cleverer" with their online scams.
He said the only way to avoid these scams was by remaining diligent and keeping a healthy dose of skepticism online.
"We call them Trojans for a reason - they really sneak in the back door," Mr Fitzgerald said.
"If you're not expecting an invoice, attachment or a zip file from someone on an email, then just be aware and suspicious about it.
"Even anti-virus software isn't going to protect your computer if you open something yourself manually. So you need to take the proper precautions before getting caught."
Mr Fitzgerald said if you were affected by an email scam, to contact your provider, change your passwords, and alert everyone in your contact list to stop the virus spreading.
"Once it's in, there's very little you can do to stop it," he said.
"But the earlier you can jump on it and stop it spreading, the better."
Mr Fitzgerald also stressed the importance of keeping backups of your information both online and offline.
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