On the 24th May 2018, the ACCC sent out a scary press release. Well, the press release wasn’t that scary, but the findings were.
It turns out that businesses lost 23% more money to scammers in 2017 than they did the year before. In fact, the latest Targeted Scams Report shows that businesses were conned out of nearly $4.7 million last year, and unfortunately, it’s small businesses that were most likely to be targeted.
Let’s take a look at the types of targeted business scams that are most common.
The report shows that false billing scams (where the business is sent a fake invoice) are the most likely to take place. However, it was employment and investment scams that left businesses most out of pocket last year.
Scamwatch defines an employment scam as an event where a scammer contacts you by email, phone or letter, and offers you a job that offers high returns for seemingly little effort. The catch is that they require you to purchase equipment or resources from the employer first. Once you’ve made your payment, they disappear and you’re left with no new source of income and potentially thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Why are small businesses being targeted the most?
Well for starters, SMEs (small to medium enterprises) are more likely to have underdeveloped infrastructure and cybersecurity, potentially leaving them more exposed to digital risks than more established businesses. It may also be a combination of a few other factors. Staff shortages, lack of resources and security, and a lack of insurance could all influence this.
So what can you do to prevent yourself or your business from falling for a scam?
For starters it’s important to have a safety net in place, the most logical of which is fraud insurance. Insurers provide this type of cover in order to protect businesses in case an employee exploits the company in a fraudulent way. Mishaps like this can happen to SMEs as well as large organisations.
It’s also important to know the signs. Here are a few things that you should be on the lookout for if you receive an unsolicited and attractive offer:
- The email, letter or caller doesn’t provide clear contact details.
- The message is not addressed directly to you (using your name).
- The message or call claims to make you lots of money in a short period of time.
- The initial message refers to a payment or deposit that you may need to put down in order to access your income.
- They ask you to transfer money under someone else’s name.
- The company doesn’t have a street address.
And finally, if you think you’re being scammed, report the scam directly to Scamwatch. It can be extremely expensive to your business so it’s important to be vigilant when dealing with scams on behalf of your company.
Richard Laycock is an Insurance Expert at finder.com.au, Australia’s most visited comparison website.