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How to protect your business from fraudulent activity during Covid-19

It goes without saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on our lives. And if you’re a business owner, one of your primary concerns is no doubt how to protect your business and keep it safe. Chances are, you’ve found it tough. Increased financial pressures, a drop in client demand and the pitfalls of working from home are just some of the challenges your business may have faced. And on top of that, history tells us that with an economic downturn comes a rise in fraud. Just what you need. 

There are a few reasons why. Feeling under pressure from the downturn in the economy, some companies might make false financial claims to meet targets. With employees’ personal finances under increasing strain, there may be a temptation to steal from the company. And if departments are making cutbacks to their anti-fraud programmes, this provides a real opportunity for criminals. 

But don’t despair. You can protect your business during Covid-19 by reading our advice below. We outline some of the key dangers to look out for and give practical tips on how to combat fraud. As they say, forewarned is forearmed. 

Cyberattacks

In these uncertain times, you’re most likely to be dealing with financial and operational challenges facing your business. It’s understandable that cybersecurity might not be your priority, but it needs to be. With more employees using tools remotely, the threat of a cyberattack is increased. 

Remote access systems may be targeted, with cyber attackers seeking to extort money. Or home WiFi networks can be infiltrated with IT systems accessed via VPNs. Protect your business by making sure security controls are in place and able to withstand denial-of-service attacks. Also, with employees working from home, remote access systems need to be patched and secure. 

Invoice fraud

You get an invoice from one of your regular suppliers. However, they tell you they’ve changed their account details. It could be that fraudsters have hacked into your regular suppliers’ emails and have monitored how much you pay them and when. By the time you realise, you may well have paid the invoice and the fraudsters have got your money. 

If you ever get emails of this sort, just give your suppliers a call. A quick verification over the phone will tell you whether or not the email is legitimate. It’s also important that anyone in your company who can authorise payments is aware of this potential threat. And to keep your business safe, remove any public information you have about companies or suppliers you work with.  

CEO fraud

Something that’s becoming increasingly prevalent during Covid-19 is CEO fraud. You might receive an email supposedly from a senior executive asking for financial information, or for a money transfer. Check the email address carefully. Fraudsters are likely to be using the CEO’s name, but the email address might be slightly different. 

Harder to detect is when the CEO’s email has been hacked. Be aware of such a possibility and check over the phone to make sure you’re not dealing with an imposter. Fraudsters will take advantage of people working remotely, using it as an excuse for unusual payment requests. Treat such emails with caution.  

Knowledge is power

Protect your business by knowing it inside out. You need to be certain about who your investors are, who you’re employing and who you’re doing business with. 

Do background checks on potential investors. Checking who they’ve worked with, what dealings they’ve had and their overall industry dexterity are important questions that need to be answered. 

Equally important is knowing your staff. The Covid-19 pandemic has had serious financial implications on individuals and families. Unfortunately, this means a higher risk of employee fraud which you need to be alert to. Protect your business by taking note of any warning signs. Has a new member of staff resigned soon after joining? Do your suppliers insist on working with one individual? Has your employee received a number of complaints? Have their performance levels dropped? These all could be indicators that something is amiss. 

You also need to know who your customers are. Yes, they’re the source of your income, but they can still pose a risk of fraud. Have you had an unusually high volume of orders? Have customers asked for a change of delivery address at the last minute? Do you have any large customer debts? Again, these could be warning signs that someone’s up to no good. 

Have a plan, Stan

There’s no need to pay through the roof for costly fraud control systems. You can keep your business safe by adopting a simple, practical approach. 

Consider where your business is most at risk of fraud. Where are the weaknesses? Once they’re identified, minimise the threat through developing systems and processes that you can communicate to your staff. 

There ought to be a culture of talking about fraud prevention. It’s an ongoing challenge, so checking your procedures should be done on a regular basis. 

And what happens if you suspect fraud? Have a contingency plan in place that everyone is aware of. Consider the following questions: Who will lead and co-ordinate your business response? Who will contact the police or insurers? Which legal advisors will you contact? Will you take action immediately or investigate further? If it’s the latter, you might need to employ a specialist investigation company. 

It can cause a lot of time, money and stress when you find out you’ve been a victim of fraud, but this can be reduced if you’re prepared.

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Hopefully, this guide will help as much as possible to protect your business during Covid-19. And there’s no safer way to transfer money than with TransferGo. Why not make a low-cost money transfer? Sign up now for easy online money transfers.

2020-09-21

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