Both in business and personally, fraud is, unfortunately, an everyday hazard and a byproduct of advances in tech mean fraud is more prevalent than ever before. There are steps you can take to keep safe from fraudsters and these are becoming an essential part of life for businesses and individuals.
1: Paperwork, money, and checks
Forged currency and checks are rife, so be on guard if you accept check payments and handle money. In business, it’s worth using anti-fraud checks that make them nearly impossible to forge with features such as anti-photocopying coatings and a security hologram.
Look out for forged dollar bills when accepting payments.
Any correspondence you decide to throw away should have an address and other information removed first, even junk mail – or better still shred it.
2: Card payments
Credit card fraud is a huge problem for U.S. businesses; especially in CNP (Card Not Present) transactions such as over the phone or online – retailers deal with over 400 fraudulent purchases each month on average.
These pointers on how to spot potential fraudulent use of cards can help if handling credit card payments in business. For your own or company-issued cards, the basic keys are:
- Don’t divulge your PIN to anyone
- Carefully file or shred statements showing the long card number and your address details – these could be used by fraudsters for cloning or trying a CNP transaction
- Keep the ‘report if lost or stolen’ number from your card provider easily accessible and call them as soon as you think you’ve lost or had cards stolen
- Dispose of expired cards carefully; cut them up before throwing them away
- Check statements carefully and regularly to spot possible irregular transactions
- Change the card PIN regularly
- Computers, IT and passwords
Ensure all computer operating systems and any software relating to the company IT system (if applicable) is up to date and that firewall software is activated.
Ensure you set strong passwords to access work and home computers and change them frequently. Use upper and lower case and a mixture of letters and numbers.
The same applies to certain websites such as online banking. In order to keep track of changing passwords, a password manager is worth considering.
Do not use the same password on more than one account.
If running a workplace IT system that others use, ensure a password policy is instituted and adhered to:
- Regular changing of passwords
- Set system up so password only gives access to relevant levels to the appropriate employee
- Forbid any sharing of passwords unless asked by the entitled person (in house IT professional for example)
- Email fraud
Various email frauds are prevalent; the most common is phishing where an email supposedly from a trusted source such as your bank, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or even a company you know and trust asks you to click a link or divulge some sensitive information such as a password.
Some of these you’ll spot immediately while others are less obvious; be aware that banks and financial institutions don’t ask for information such as passwords via email.
If you’re suspicious, call the relevant company using the numbers you have for them (not the one on the email) and check if they’ve sent you anything. Not using your name in the salutation is a big giveaway.
Fraudulent emails should be deleted.
- Telephone fraud
Similar to phishing scams above, telephone fraudsters work in a similar way by pretending to be from your bank or similar and asking you to divulge something like your password or even move money into a ‘safe’ account that they provide as they’re investigating a so-called security breach.
As with email security, if you receive a call like this check with your bank or credit card provider first by terminating the suspicious call and getting in touch with your bank.
Ensure you terminate the call properly (wait a while before phoning your bank) in case the fraudster’s phone system keeps you connected, in which case you may be actually still talking to them and not your actual bank or card provider.
Be extremely diligent with phone calls like this; many people have been deceived including savvy professional types not just the more vulnerable.
Report fraud and spread the word
Both individually and in a business context, fraud should be reported as soon as you suspect something has happened and information shared.
For example, other family members can benefit from knowing about new fraud techniques and practices as can co-workers and management at work if a particular fraud has been tried on an individual.