Coronavirus and fraud: What you need to know to protect your business
Alongside the many different disruptions and threats that businesses have had to navigate in the last few months, the global pandemic has also caused an increased risk of business fraud.
Here we look at the risks, and what you need to look out for to keep your business safe.
Why are risks increased?
With the disruption created by the ongoing pandemic, many business owners and employees will be feeling more pressure than usual and may be struggling to adjust to an entirely new way of working.
Criminals looking to commit fraud will see an opportunity to take advantage of these conditions, tricking businesses into making false payments, giving away information or buying non-existent goods or services.
Another possible added risk could come from companies having to adapt to working remotely, which they may not have been prepared for. This could cause issues when it comes to communication and the verification of payments.
Fraudsters have also been taking advantage of people’s desire for information and eagerness to respond appropriately for their business.
Some of the new and increased scams that have been seen in recent months include:
- Government Grant Scam – Fraudsters pose as the government offering grants using fake emails and a fake website that will capture your sensitive information.
- Invoice Fraud – Impersonating suppliers asking you to change payments to a new account due to Covid-19. Sometimes the fraudsters may have even hacked the suppliers to make this appear more genuine.
- CEO Fraud – Sending emails framed as though they are from the CEO or senior members of staff, asking employees to make urgent payments or relinquish sensitive information.
- Fake Supplier Fraud – Fraudsters set up websites appearing to sell high demand items (face masks, hand sanitiser etc).
- Delayed Delivery Scam – Emails appearing to offer details of delayed deliveries from suppliers and prompt you to open new shipment details that actually contain malware.
- Health Information Scams – Emails appearing to be from the NHS, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation offering help and advice in order to capture sensitive information.
- Rent Deferral Scams – For businesses that rent their premises, another scam to be aware of is an email sent seemingly from your landlord, offering a 3 month rent deferral in exchange for a deposit paid into a new account.
How to stay protected
Being aware of these scams is a great first step to keeping your business safe, but what other actions should you take to protect your business?
As well as being aware of the above scams, it is important to make sure that everyone else in your business is also aware, particularly if they have access to sensitive information or the ability to make payments.
It is also important to pay attention to any new advice or warnings being issued by official parties, as scammers are continuously coming up with new ways to target companies.
Keep software up to date
Most businesses will use some type of anti-fraud software which, when up to date, can greatly reduce the risk of a cyber attack.
There are also other types of protection that you can introduce or update alongside anti-fraud software, such as two factor authentication, spam filters and the security setting built into your email provider.
Pick up the phone
Whether you make an internal phone call to a colleague to verify information or a payment, call suppliers on a trusted number to check the information you’ve received or contact the bank immediately if you think you may have fallen victim to a scam, it’s always better to pick up the phone than not.
Especially when it comes to invoice fraud, should a supplier change their bank details always contact them on a phone number or email address you have on file to verify this information.
Have you had any encounters with scammers during the pandemic? We’d love to hear about your experiences and any advice you may want to share in the comments below.