Take five to stop fraud

Do you know who is on the other end of the phone? Are you sure? That caller may seem to know you, may have some relevant details to hand; but are they really who they say they are?  If they aren’t genuine, is there a danger that at best you might be tricked into giving away personal or business sensitive information, at worst handing over funds to scammers?

The same questions could be asked of e-mail or any other form of correspondence.  Know your customer is an important plank of investment advice but know your caller should equally apply to all business sectors.

It’s a message that is being highlighted by the “Take Five to Stop Fraud” campaign.  Commenting that scams are becoming ever more sophisticated, the campaign’s challenge to businesses, particularly small businesses, at the beginning of 2022 is to ‘Stop, Challenge, Protect.’ It’s a fairly simple three step process. Firstly, if a business receives a request to make an urgent payment, change supplier bank details or provide any form of financial information; take a moment to stop and think.

Then take time to challenge the request. That challenge could be something as simple as picking up the phone to a known contact and checking that the request is genuine. Remember here to separately verify the number you are phoning. Scammers can fake correspondence with their own contact details so never simply phone the number provided. And don’t rely on the fact that the caller’s number shown on your screen seems correct. Scammers also have the ability to display phone numbers other than the ones they are calling from.

Finally, if unfortunately a scammer gets through your defences, the third (protect) step calls on businesses to both contact their bank and report to Action Fraud as soon as possible. Remember, no genuine business will complain about you taking reasonable steps to verify their requests for payment or information. By taking the three steps above businesses may be able to reduce the amount of money lost to business scams and fraud which according to UK Finance amounted to more than £59 million in the first half of 2021 alone.

This is also where your people can play an important part in cutting down on fraud. A survey by the campaign revealed that 80% of SMEs had received an unsolicited text or email request for money or information, with 64% receiving unsolicited phone calls. Training your people to be scam aware could help similar approaches to be identified and cut short. It may also help your people to understand why other businesses may request call backs or further clarifications in response to requests sent out by your organisation.

Commenting on the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “As we start the new year, businesses should make it a priority to be wary of any unexpected contact requesting an urgent payment and to be careful with the type of information you share online about your business.”

Written by Alison