Helping to prevent fraud

In January 2022 we highlighted the “Take Five to Stop Fraud” campaign. This challenged businesses to stop and think when asked to send funds or hand over business details, to challenge change requests, and to report fraudulent attempts to Action Fraud.

However, there is also another area of fraud prevention which businesses would do well to consider; helping customers to be fraud aware. It’s an area which is rising in importance as criminals become increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to defraud or scam money from individuals and from businesses.

So much so that a report released by UK Finance at the end of June 2022 revealed that more than £1.3billion was stolen by fraudsters in 2021. Admittedly action by banks prevented a further £1.4billion of attempted fraud but the figures are still large enough to warrant action.

With that in mind, what can businesses do to help their own customers to stay safe? Well, let’s start by looking at the way in which customer calls are managed. One of the strong anti-fraud messages being put out by banks and other financial institutions is that they will never ask customers for confidential information over the phone. In other words, if someone receives a call out of the blue purporting to be from a bank or other institution and asking for birth date, account details and so on then it is a strong chance that that call is fraudulent.

And yet, this writer has received calls from what have turned out to be legitimate businesses asking for private information ‘in order to check that we are speaking with the right person.’ Admittedly there will be times when you may want to ensure that you are speaking to a specific individual. Nevertheless there are ways of doing so without normalising the provision of confidential information on request over the phone.

Similarly, businesses should be open and helpful if someone they call wants to call back to confirm the legitimacy of the caller. For example, you may wish to provide a name and extension number but encourage the individual to independently check the business phone number from a website or directory.

Another message going out to consumers and businesses is to always check when being asked to make a payment; particularly if the payment details have changed. Legitimate businesses which have an eye to anti-fraud measures should be all too happy to receive calls checking payment details; provided it is the caller who is giving the details and simply asking for confirmation. But make sure that changes of bank details are known to your call handlers so that any enquiry can be dealt with swiftly.

How you manage your calls could make a difference to how your customers detect and respond to fraudulent or scam attempts. As, Katy Worobec, the Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance said: “Fraud has a devastating impact on victims and the money stolen funds serious organised crime, as well as imposing significant costs on the wider economy” adding “This is why we continue to call for other sectors to play a greater role in helping protect customers from the scourge of fraud.”

Written by Alison