Whether it’s in business or conducting everyday personal activities, fraud is an unfortunate fact of life and – in the face of ever more diverse and subtle and not so subtle methods – it’s important to remain vigilant and be aware of the risks.
Here are some ways to avoid fraud in your business and personal activities:
Physical checks can be a haven for fraudulent activity, so in business it’s important to be careful if issuing them. The use of high tech, tamper proof checks that can’t be copied is an ideal way to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud.
Also, ensure only a very small number of people are authorized to sign them.
Bogus cash is a basic – yet still effective – way for fraudsters to operate.
In business, invest in some basic fake currency detection equipment for use in point of sale areas and ensure customer facing staff know how to spot fake cash.
In your personal life, be careful when accepting higher denomination bills from people – especially, for example, strangers paying cash for something you’re selling privately.
Be careful of phone calls from people purporting to be from your bank, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) or any other institution.
These are often fraudsters posing as officials from these organizations and – under cover of ‘performing a security check for our customers’ or similar – will ask you to divulge passwords, log in details, account numbers and other sensitive information.
Check thoroughly who they are and ideally terminate the call to check with the institution, using their official phone number, to see if they actually need to speak to you.
Similar to the above, you may receive a convincing email from a bank, organization or similar asking you to visit a website, click a link in the email or phone a certain number.
These ‘phishing’ emails have worked extremely well for the fraudsters concerned but they’re usually preventable: for example, a giveaway is if they don’t address you by name – most of your institutions would if emailing you – and none of them will ever email to ask you to submit passwords, log in details or other sensitive information.
As above with ‘telephone’, if you’re in doubt, contact the institution concerned to verify if they’ve genuinely emailed you.
A very real threat and a popular fraud method: indeed, some burglars don’t bother with physical possessions, they’re just after basic information such as a letter or document they can use to clone someone’s ID.
Ensure all mail – even a basic letter with your name and address on – isn’t left carelessly on display and dispose of mail you no longer need carefully. Don’t just throw it in the bin: tear off the part containing address and other sensitive details before disposal. For sensitive documents, shredding is the answer.
The above applies for business and personal security.
If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to fraud either personally or in business, having an action plan as a ‘fall back’ allows you to take remedial steps quickly to minimize cost and inconvenience.
- Up to date back ups of all data if company IT or your home computer or smartphone is compromised
- Quick access to appropriate phone numbers if credit and other payment cards require suspending or canceling
- In business, help staff understand fraud risks through regular, updated training
- Ensure all computers, IT systems and other tech such as laptops and smartphones are regularly updated with the latest software