Business fraud is on the increase so be prepared

There are a number of problems facing companies on a daily basis but one of the biggest is the increasing threat of business fraud.

It’s all too easy for businesses to lose sight of the dangers of this potential minefield when they are battling to front up to what can be perceived as more important issues like difficult economic conditions, limited resources and recovery from Covid.

It means companies, particularly SMEs, are often in simple survival mode to the point where systems security, due diligence and risk management can be overlooked. But it’s vital that they recognise the risks and act upon them.

What is business fraud?

Put simply, business fraud is all about criminals trying to gain access to your systems and sensitive information by lying about who they are or represent with the sole aim of benefiting financially or otherwise from the deception.

The Metropolitan Police have extensive online guidance about business fraud, how to recognise it and what can be done to counter it, and banking giant HSBC recently emailed its customers warning of the dangers and offering guidance on how to remain safe and secure – further proof of just how serious this growing problem actually is.

What form does business fraud take?

Businesses can be at risk:

– When making payments
– From online activity
– From fraudulent emails
– Over the telephone

Problems may arise during any actions which make the transfer of money necessary. Emails are a common type of business fraud – messages purporting to be from a sender you may recognise as someone you deal with, but it’s possible that the genuine business email has been hacked and you are unwittingly negotiating with the fraudster.

Another ploy is for the fraudster to set up an email that is almost identical to the authentic one, or piggybacking on a genuine email but adding to or amending the original and then tricking you by providing new bank details for you to make payment.

Similar deceptions can be created through bogus websites set up to look like genuine companies and telephone scams which are easy traps to fall into if you are caught off-guard. It allows the caller to obtain vital information which can then be used to commit the crime.

How can businesses protect themselves?

There are many things you can do to ensure your business and data remain secure:

Stay alert – Remain vigilant at all times and ensure your staff are also briefed on the dangers.

Be sceptical of all emails – Check emails closely, they may not be from who you think. If in doubt use a contact number you know is genuine to check the authenticity of the email. Don’t open unexpected email attachments.

Only pass on information that is necessary – And even then make sure you know who you are dealing with and are backed up by the appropriate safeguards and authorisations.

Install recognised anti-virus software.

Use strong passwords and change them regularly.

Back up your data and store it separately.

Instigate Two Factor Authentication – An extra layer of security that may be in the form of a code you need to input after entering your password.

Have a recovery plan – a procedure that will allow you to carry on if your systems are attacked.

Seek professional support – The best way to ensure your systems and data security is to call in a specialist like PC Net. Our team is here to help you and happy to look after your IT security 24/7, meaning you don’t have to!

To find out more, call us on 01743 290588.