According to UK Finance, a total of £1.2 billion was lost to fraud or scams in 2018, meaning this sort of illegal activity still poses a significant threat to consumers throughout the UK. In the same article, UK Finance also claimed that, in the same year, due to secure systems being put in place, British companies saved £1.6 billion that would have otherwise been funnelled into the hands of criminals.
As a dedicated accounting firm who endeavours to securely manage business accounts, no matter what you need, we have made it our priority to give you some of the best advice for avoiding falling victim to business financial fraud, including some red flags you shouldn’t ignore and tips for protecting your accounts indefinitely.
3 red flags you should be aware of when it comes to protecting your business from financial fraud
One part of avoiding incidences of financial fraud comes with spotting warning signs. There will be certain things that scammers and fraudsters will do that are almost guaranteed to make hard-working businesses part with their well-earned cash. While a lot of their techniques can be very convincing, others are easier to spot. So what are the red flags you should be looking out for?
This is usually done via email whereby the contents will ask the recipient for specific, often sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, bank information and/or credit or debit card details. It’s important that you first look at the email address it was sent from and ask yourself some questions, including:
- Is it from a reputable company?
- Are there any spelling mistakes in it?
- Does it feature a lot of numbers and repeat letters?
- If there are numbers in the email address, are they in seemingly random places?
If the answers to one or more of the above questions is “yes”, then it’s likely that the email is fake and there’s a scammer behind it who is trying to gather sensitive information that results in their own financial gain, illegitimately. It’s paramount that, if possible, you do not open the email and certainly do not click on links that might be contained within it. You can report phishing emails to Action Fraud and they’ll take steps to shut it down.
Unsolicited attempts to make contact
Scammers will use several different tactics to try and pull confidential information off you and one way in which they do this is unexpected phone calls either to the house phone or your mobile. If you answer an unknown number and there’s someone on the other end promising huge returns on investments or a once in a lifetime opportunity, then it’s likely to be a scam artist. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. It’s best to ignore unknown callers and block their numbers, especially if it’s come out of the blue.
Someone making you feel rushed or pressured into making decisions
If you have picked up the phone or answered an email from a likely scammer, which is adamantly advised against, then you might end up getting so far into the conversation that the caller tried to pressure you into making rash decisions or into handing over your personal information.
Whether you get phone calls personally, when not at work, or via the office telephone, you should not give out any sensitive information over the phone, and that includes your employer’s details. Banks, for example, will never ask you for bank information, including pin numbers, over the phone. If in doubt, politely decline and hang up.
3 ways you can avoid becoming a victim of business financial fraud
No business, however big or small, wants to fall victim to financial fraud or scammers, which is why we’ve detailed a few hints and tips for keeping your finances safe and secure at all times. Some of the things you can do to prevent this and protect your company are as follows:
Never give out personal, sensitive or confidential information
As already touched upon, you should refrain from handing over any sensitive, personal or confidential information, whether on the phone or via email. As well as being able to block suspicious telephone numbers, you can also block and report illegitimate email addresses so you can be sure that you won’t hear from that specific scammer again.
Nevertheless, it’s important you report your experience if this happens in the workplace so that your employer can put measures in place to considerably reduce the risk or eliminate it completely.
Always use strong passwords & update them regularly
It’s always been common advice to ensure our passwords are as complex as possible, and for good reason. It prevents scammers from trying to guess passwords, but it also makes it difficult for robots to decipher them. As well as having strong passwords, they should be different for every account you hold, whether it be at work or at home, and they need to be changed regularly. It’s also important that you do not write these passwords down as it could result in a serious data breach. Make the effort to remember them instead.
Take steps to secure your technology & computer systems
If you do not have the right steps in place to prevent a malware attack or to intercept suspicious emails, then you need to make sure these are implemented as soon as possible and kept updated. Some of the basic steps you should take include ensuring all computer systems are protected with:
- Anti-virus software
- Firewall software
- Spyware software
- Malware detection software
You should also implement a password policy whereby all employees will be required to change their passwords every so often. You also need to maintain data policies to make sure that your business’ most important, critical data and information is backed up periodically for your absolute peace of mind.
RLTP Accountants are pleased to be able to offer small and medium-sized businesses alike sterling accountancy services that’ll relieve you of the stress and pressure of looking after your finances yourself. Whether you need payroll management or bookkeeping services or wish to undergo company formations, self-assessments and more, you’ll always be able to look to our expert team of highly-qualified, fully-trained accountants to help you. We endeavour to expertly manage your accounts so that you don’t have to, ensuring business owners, regardless of the industry they work in, can focus on what they do best. For more information, get in touch with a member of our friendly, knowledgeable team today – we’re proud to operate throughout Nottingham, Leicester, Derby and the surrounding areas.