Fighting fraud at Christmas

After months and months of working around the Covid pandemic, helping your people to contribute safely from home or setting up additional safety features in the office, you might feel that your systems are now secure as they can be. And that might well be the case. However, when looking at security it is also important to consider the part which people have to play in recognising and turning aside potentially fraudulent attacks on your business.

And the fact is that at Christmas time we are perhaps more likely to let down our guard down than at other times of the year. That’s one reason why Action Fraud has launched a fraud free Christmas campaign, making people aware of the potential for online fraud at this time of year. Highlighting the fact that in December 2019 more than 17,000 individuals reported losing almost £13.5 million to online fraudsters, Action Fraud say that online shopping fraud has risen by a further 30% thanks to the pandemic.

The campaign, which admittedly is mostly concerned with online shopping, nevertheless also carries an important reminder for business. Warnings such as being careful if you are dealing with a new business or individual online, using strong passwords, and watching out for phishing emails apply equally to normal business dealings as to Christmas shopping. And when people are not only working from home but also are unable to contact colleagues who may be on a Christmas break the temptation can be to simply accept what appears in the inbox, online or over the phone as genuine.

This then maybe the time for some awareness training; helping people to understand that delaying actions until requests have been thoroughly investigated is preferable to potentially handing money to fraudsters. Sometimes a simple telephone call can be all it takes to frustrate fraudulent attempts. And if a key individual is out of the office then having a recognised process in place either to wait for their return or to refer to another named individual can help to ensure that employees are less likely to succumb to the ‘act now’ pressure which fraudsters thrive on.

But there are also simple steps which businesses can take to help their employees, whether they are working from home or office. Depending on the business model, companies may decide to block calls from overseas, premium rate, or withheld numbers. If there is a chance that such calls may be genuine, another option could be to automatically divert them to an individual or group of individuals who have received extra training in fraud awareness. The caller pre-announce feature can also help to raise awareness of the potential for the call to be either genuine or a scam.

For those working from home the feeling of isolation may also lead to a temptation make judgement calls. The trick here is to reduce the feeling of isolation, perhaps by setting up regular conference calls or by encouraging people to just phone each other for chats, essentially replacing water cooler interactions. This is where internet telephony comes into its own with VoIP calls between users on the same network being free of charge. As a result businesses can encourage free communications without incurring costs.

Christmas may be a time for giving. By taking a few simple steps, businesses help to ensure that the people they are giving to are not fraudsters or scammers.

Written by Alison