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Beer Mergers Limited is an independent, specialist corporate advisory firm, a "boutique" operation focusing specifically on sales and acquisitions in the small business sector.

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Fighting Fraud – The Golden Rules to Protect Yourself


Fraud today is ever more sophisticated and organised, and every sector of the economy faces this threat, so all businesses should recognise that there are important steps to take to protect themselves.

The nature of fraud against businesses is constantly changing.  It’s no longer petty scams – nowadays fraudsters are much more likely to target you via a telephone or a computer. Virtually all sectors of the economy are under threat from fraudsters.

Here are some of the most common frauds seen today:

  • Telephone (vishing): Fraudsters trick you into divulging security credentials over the telephone.  This includes telephone calls pretending to be from the fraud department of your bank or even the police.
  • E-mail (phishing): you are encouraged to click on a link or document within an e-mail that downloads malicious software onto your computer or directs you to a fraudulent website that looks identical to the official site.  This allows a fraudster to gain access to your security credentials or card information.
  • Malicious software (malware/Trojan): your computer may be infected with malware by responding to a phishing e-mail, visiting insecure web sites or using an insecure internet browser.  This also allows the fraudster to capture your security credentials or bank card details.
  • Invoice fraud is another fraud against businesses.  The fraudster advises that the bank details for the settlement of future invoices should be changed, meaning that your next payment will be paid into their account.  The fraud is usually discovered when the supplier that sent the genuine invoice chases for non-payment, by which time the recovery of any funds is highly unlikely.
  • Fraudsters also continue to carry out cheque fraud against businesses but there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself against these too.

It’s not all doom and gloom.  There are some simple but effective steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud.

  • Banks will never ask for your full PIN and password online; only 3 random digits from each are needed to log-in;
  • Banks will never ask you for your PIN and password or any smartcard codes over the telephone; so beware of imposters;
  • Banks will never ask for smartcard codes to log-in; these codes are used to authorise payments;
  • Store cheque books securely, ideally under lock and key at all times, reconcile cheques used against your statements, and follow-up: stop missing or lost cheques.
  • On invoices, always contact the supplier or creditor to validate requests for payment or to amend bank details, and closely scrutinise all requests for payment.  Check the e-mail address or fax number they are sent against your company records.

You can obtain more fraud and security advice from your own bank, don’t hesitate to do so.  All businesses are at risk, however small or modest their operations.

Posted on by Mike Halls

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