Businesses can be an attractive target for fraudsters so it is important to implement processes to protect against bogus calls and email, warns Feargal McCormack.
Almost every day we read reports in the news of individuals who have fallen victim to bogus calls and emails. Recently, fraudsters purporting to be from the tax authorities contacted individuals demanding immediate payment of a tax bills over the phone. Revenue posted a warning about these calls on their website last month and more recently the PSNI posted a similar warning on their Facebook page. In the past, FPM has seen instances of similar bogus calls and emails seeking payment for late filing penalties, registration fees and directory listings. If you receive calls like this, you should never disclose personal or bank information and should report the call to the relevant authorities.
Invoices are another potential target for fraudsters as they provide information that can be used to divert payments. Any request to change a supplier’s bank details should be treated with suspicion and verified. Never rely on contact information provided in the suspect communication to verify the request.
Unusual requests for refunds should also be treated with suspicion. For example, there is scam where a new customer places an order for goods and pays by cheque or bank draft. They then call or email to say they accidentally overpaid and request a partial refund by electronic bank transfer. Refunds should not be paid until the original payment has cleared in case the original cheque or bank draft was fraudulent.
Fraudster impersonating staff member
Another scam to watch out for is where a fraudster contacts one of your team purporting to be a senior staff member. The contact can be by phone or by email and usually requests an urgent transfer of money. It is important to train your staff to spot these potentially fraudulent requests and be aware that such requests may be received by email, phone call or letter.
Protecting your business
Often, fraudsters use publicly available information to select their targets. The more information they have, the more plausible they appear when making their requests. There are some basic steps that you can take to protect yourself and your business, such as:
◆ Be wary of suspicious calls, emails or letters
◆ Be suspicious of contacts that require an urgent response
◆ Use strong passwords and avoid using the same password for different websites and/or services
◆ Do not open or click on links in suspicious emails
◆ Implement robust processes for payment requests, verification and authorisations
◆ Check bank statements carefully
For further information or advice on your specific concerns, please contact our Forensic Accounting team.
Feargal McCormack l Managing Director