Calling fraud awareness

Are you feeling generous? Even if you are, are you prepared to hand over 5% of your annual revenue to fraudsters? According to the International Fraud Awareness week website that’s the average amount lost by companies every year due to fraud. More worryingly, the site also comments that when it comes to smaller businesses 42% of frauds are down to a lack of internal controls.

The Fraud Awareness week, which runs from 17 to 23 November 2019, is being used by various bodies to heighten fraud awareness for both individuals and businesses. For example, Nottinghamshire Police have used the awareness week to issue a bulletin which looks at two current phone scams before going on to advise individuals on ways in which they can help to protect themselves from telephone fraud.

The scams mentioned relate to automated calls either stating that a £600 transaction has just appeared on an individual’s bank account or that an Amazon prime subscription has been fraudulently taken out in their name. Either way recipients of the calls are invited to ‘press 1’ and are then connected to the fraudsters who then try to ascertain bank or other personal information. Various ways of deterring fraudsters are mentioned in the article including use of the TPS, call blockers, and a warning not to trust Caller ID which can be spoofed by fraudsters.

Fraudulent attempts don’t just arise on the telephone but whether by phone, e-mail or other means, the same prevention criteria apply. Firstly, if you receive an unexpected approach, don’t assume that the individual is who they say they are and secondly never divulge financial or other information over the phone.

With such a high proportion of business fraud arising due to lack of internal controls it could be worth businesses taking time out to review and strengthen telephone protocols alongside the provision of some basic phone awareness training for staff. There are some simple measures which businesses can put in place which will help to prevent fraudulent misuse of the business phone system.

For example, if the business rarely has a need to call overseas or premium rate numbers then doesn’t it make sense to restrict access to these numbers from the majority of extensions? For added protection, make such calls subject to the use of a pass-code which can be issued on an individual basis. Don’t though fall into the trap of creating an easily memorable code such as 1111 or leaving a sticker next to the phone with the code written on it!

Similarly, with the Christmas and New Year holidays coming up does it really make sense to leave an open phone system which is easily accessible to any passing fraudster. Consider either locking individual extensions or block access via your virtual switchboard. The use of phone divert can also be worth considering here; either diverting calls away from unattended positions within the office or to an external number in the event of the office shutting down for a period.

No matter what processes you put in place, at the end of the day your best anti-fraud measure is your people. Fraud awareness training can help people to be vigilant and just might ensure that when that fraudulent call comes in, it won’t succeed.

Written by Alison