Fraud and scams come in all shapes and sizes, and Australia is no stranger to them. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that scams cost the country over $381 million in 2022.
The worst part is that criminals are only becoming more cunning by putting a new spin on tried-and-tested scams to target businesses. This means it’s more important than ever for businesses to stay vigilant. Here’s some practical advice on safeguarding your company from becoming a victim.
1. Beware of unsolicited messages that ask you to take action
Unexpected phone calls, emails, or text messages asking you to click on a link or provide personal information should ring your alarm bells. Scammers can masquerade as representatives of well-known organisations like bank tellers and say your account is frozen. These techniques are designed to create a sense of urgency so you would impulsively take action.
The best thing you can do is stay calm and never respond to these messages. Legitimate businesses will never ask for your details, nor will they direct you to a dubious website. Moreover, if you want to verify the message’s authenticity, contact the organisation using the contact information listed on their official website.
2. Protect your identity online
Businesses and individuals that often overshare personal information online are usually prime targets for scammers. This is why you should be very careful about what information you make public, especially on social media. Don’t share personal details like names, home addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, or tax file numbers. Your company should also be wary of posting photos that may contain sensitive information like credit cards and passports. Scammers can easily collect this information and use it for nefarious purposes.
3. Update your contact details
When financial institutions detect suspicious activity on your account, they will try to reach you using the contact details you have on file. This is why it’s essential to update your contact information. Otherwise, you may miss out on important warnings about your account.
4. Set up account notifications
Most banks and financial institutions enable customers to set alerts for transactions, spending limit adjustments, and account changes. In addition, alerts are helpful in keeping track of your finances and catching any fraudulent activities early. If you do spot something unusual, report it to your bank immediately.
5. Follow security guidelines for banking
Westpac’s security well-being check is a list of safety guidelines you can take to protect yourself and your business from fraud. While the guidelines are primarily for Westpac clients, many valuable tips can be applied to any business bank account. Some of the key recommendations include:
- Set a daily payment limit on your online banking.
- Use unique passwords of at least 12 characters long and change them regularly.
- Update your online banking app to get the latest security features and patches.
- Enable location settings so your bank can see if your money is being spent in unusual places or withdrawn from remote ATMs.
- Switch to electronic statements to avoid mail intercept scams.
6. Read about the latest scams
The best way to protect your business from scams is to stay informed on the latest schemes being used by criminals. Hence, here are the most common scams your business should watch out for:
- Investment scams – fake investment opportunities that often involve get-rich-quick schemes or promise high returns on investments
- Business email compromise – criminals, gain access to a business email account and use it to request fraudulent payments
- Threat and penalty scams – scams that threaten businesses with legal action or hefty fines unless they make an immediate payment
- Identity theft – criminals use a company executive’s bank information to apply for loans or credit cards, file taxes, or make other unauthorised transactions
- Tax scams – scammers posing as ATO officials may demand payment for fake debts or try to trick you into sharing business tax records
7. Educate your staff
Fraud prevention is a team effort, so educating your employees on the signs of scams and how to avoid them is crucial. Moreover, conduct regular security training sessions on security protocol and ensure your staff knows who to contact if they suspect something is amiss.
Employees who have access to business finances should receive more comprehensive security training, as they are more likely to be targeted by scammers. In addition, conduct background checks on new staff members to reduce the risk of hiring someone with a history of fraud.
8. Secure your IT infrastructure
A robust cybersecurity framework can protect your business from phishing and malware attacks. Implementing next-generation firewalls, anti-malware software, and advanced threat protection systems dramatically increase your security. You should also encrypt data and enable role-based access permissions. These measures will make it more difficult for criminals to access your systems and steal sensitive information.
Keeping your business safe from fraud requires ongoing effort, but Empower IT can make your life easier. We’ll help you implement advanced security solutions and best practices so that you can keep scammers at bay. Call us now.