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How to Avoid Hackers and Fraud in your Dealership

In the information age, we must be constantly vigilant against faceless hackers who can cause untold damage without ever being seen. The damage they cause can include anything from data breaches to high-jacking of computer or phone systems.

Recently, a local dealer in Akron, Ohio was the victim of a scam that crippled their phone system for almost a week. According to Fox 8 News in Cleveland, the scammers called Summit Toyota to demand payment from a valued employee for an alleged debt. The employee realized quickly it was a scam, but not before engaging the caller in conversation.

Moments later, all of the phone lines started ringing, tying up the entire system. This went on for several days.  “All of our lines started ringing – all of them,” said General Manager T.J. DiSanto. “They kept telling us they weren’t going to stop until they received the money.”

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“Because they were robo-dialing, using phone numbers from all over the country, there was no way to pinpoint their access point,” said DiSanto. “If it happens to (others) hang up the phone, don’t engage them in any way,” said DiSanto. “Just a simple conversation can give them hope and they keep cracking the door open further.”

This situation is not unique. Scammers and hackers are a constant threat, but there are safeguards you can use. Here are some ways you can protect your dealership from a situation similar to Summit Toyota.

Phone Scams

There are a number phone scams you could fall victim to. Most are not as extreme as the Summit Toyota case, but they still pose a threat to your dealership security. The investigators that helped with this case recommended the following tips:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers or claims of unpaid debt or unknown bills.
  • Never pay them, or provide personal or credit information.
  • Don’t even engage them in conversation.
  • Hand up and report the call to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Email Spam and Spoofing

Email spamming or spoofing is another common scam that affects all types of businesses. This occurs when hackers are able to infiltrate your website and plant malware on your website that will send out high volumes of spam emails from your domain.

Depending on the volume of email being sent and the daily limits of your email server, spoofing can completely cripple your email server by clogging up your outgoing SMTP relay with spam. If the problem is not addressed quickly, you can also risk getting your domain blacklisted and having your email server shut down.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to constantly monitor your web server for viruses and malware. You should also pay attention to unusual activity on your email server, such as high amounts of outgoing mail.

Data Security

This article would not be complete without addressing data security. This is potentially the greatest financial risk for your dealership as there are stiff fines and potential litigation if sensitive customer information is breached.

Here are a few suggestions from Big Data Made Simple:

  1. Reduce the transfer of data. Sensitive information should not be shared needlessly with external devices. 
  2. Restrict Download. Sensitive information should be restricted to download and only accessible through secure login. 
  3. Always use encrypted devices. Laptops and other portable devices that are not encrypted are more likely to be attacked. 
  4. Change passwords regularly. Require employees to change their passwords regularly. Passwords should also be unpredictable and hard to crack. 
  5. Monitor your network. Your security team should be able to identify suspicious network activity as it is happening. This suggestion may not prevent security breach, but it can limit the effect.


Train employees in security.  Providing privacy and security training to all employees related to data activities will bring awareness and boost prevention.

Ken Strong
Ken Strong
Retail automotive veteran and writer for

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