Working Remotely? Be Aware of These Home Office Scams.

by Rebecca Lake |June 29, 2022

Working remotely from home offers undeniable perks — such as zero commute and a more flexible schedule.

However, while every day may be casual Friday, one thing to not take lightly is cybersecurity.

If you're working from home temporarily or permanently, knowing how to protect yourself from cybercrime belongs at the top of your daily to-do list, along with knowing how to protect your personal information online and your home office.

In order to protect your personal information and home office when working remotely, it is important to understand some of the biggest cybersecurity risks to watch out for.

Portrait of a serious woman looking at laptop

And that's not the only thing you need to look out for when working remotely. Other common scams include targeting remote employees and business owners (which may or may not be perpetrated through a business email compromise) include:

  • Charity fraud: Can be prevalent in times of crisis — such as political unrest or a natural disaster — during which fraudulent charitable organizations reach out asking for donations.
  • Bank impersonation: Fraudsters disguise themselves as trustworthy entities at a financial institutions to try and gain access to information.
  • Downloading remote access software: You receive a call, email or text from what is believed to a reputable company and are asked to download a remote access app.
  • A surprise name in your account: A new banking or credit card account opened in your name with an exorbitant service fee added on top.
  • Mobile phone takeover: Cyber-criminals switch a phone number from one wireless provider to another, so your phone is no longer receiving two factor authentication calls or texts.

Woman working from home on laptop

How to protect your home office from scams

If you're working remotely for your employer, they may already have their own security protocols in place.

"There's a good possibility that your employer's IT department will take care of all the important security protections, updates and other aspects of protecting you online," says Chris Hauk, consumer privacy champion at online security education website Pixel Privacy.

But it still pays to be diligent about security yourself. Hauk says some of the best ways to do that are to:

  • Make sure your malware or firmware is always up to date
  • Use a secure virtual private network at home, as well as other remote work areas in lieu of public WiFi
  • Change the default password on your home WiFi router
  • Don't allow access to your company-issued devices, such as a mobile phone or laptop

It's also important to limit the use of workplace-issued devices to work tasks. Downloading a seemingly harmless app to your work phone, for example, could potentially expose you to fraud if the app includes malicious tracking software.

Illustration of mobile phone screen

4 Ways to guard against fraudulent emails

1. Verify sender's email address: Fraudsters might fake the displayed name and try to disguise the domain (e.g., "citii.com").

2. Read carefully: Grammar errors and urgent requests that break protocol are red flags.

3. Scrutinize links: Hover over a hyperlink to see the URL it goes to. Use caution with unexpected attachments, too.

4. Check with sender: Contact them via a verified phone number to confirm they sent the email.

Rebecca Lake

is a freelance journalist who's worked from home full-time since 2014. She routinely covers online security challenges for small businesses and consumers.

The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article.