The holidays are fast approaching, which means businesses need to ensure they have effective cybersecurity measures in place ahead of the peak season for scams. After a year that saw breaches to some of the largest financial institutions and businesses in Australia, the holidays are set to see a significant rise in cybercrime, warns Chris Dahl, co-CEO of Pin Payments
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), scam losses in Australia reached over $2 billion in 2022, and businesses lost a total of $23.2 million, a 73 per cent increase from 2021. The ACCC also reported that investment scams were the highest loss category for businesses in 2022, accounting for $1.5 billion in losses. Remote access scams ($229 million) and payment redirection scams ($224 million) were the other two most common scams targeting businesses.
The ACCC has warned businesses to be particularly vigilant around Christmas, as scammers often take advantage of the holiday season to target busy businesses. So, here are a few tips to help you protect your business from falling prey to scammers this season.
The 5 most common scams during the festive season
The fake invoice
Scammers exploit the fact that most businesses are extremely busy during the holiday period by issuing fake invoices while pretending to be one of your suppliers. These invoices often seem legitimate, come with a sense of urgency and may contain charges for products or services you haven’t received. To prevent falling victim to this scam businesses need to implement strict verification processes for all invoices, such as confirming orders and cross-checking invoice details with purchase records. Staff training on recognising these scams is also vital.
Payment redirection scam
Payment redirect scamming, also known as Business Email Compromise (BEC), is when a fraudster hacks into a business’s email account and changes the bank account details for payments, so that they receive the payments instead of the legitimate supplier. This type of fraud is difficult to detect and dangerous for businesses who could unknowingly be transferring thousands to scammers instead of legitimate businesses.
Businesses should secure their email systems with strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Always verify changes to payment details directly with the supplier using known and trusted contact information. Keep a close eye on your business accounts and customer transactions for unusual purchases or high value orders that may be above your average transaction price and investigate any irregular behaviour during this time.
Gift card scams
Over the holidays, fraudsters contact businesses pretending to be company executives or trusted partners and request the purchase of gift cards for various reasons, such as employee rewards or charity donations. They will ask for the gift card numbers and PINs, which they quickly redeem or sell. Make sure you check any email requesting the purchase of gift cards, even those from within your own business, to ensure it is legitimate. Creating a formal process for the purchase of gift cards may also help prevent any costly errors.
Many people give to charities over the holiday season, creating the perfect opportunity for scammers to create fake campaigns and prey on your kindness. Be careful as these fraudsters are very sophisticated, even designing fake websites and sending mass emails soliciting donations for made-up causes or by impersonating real charities. Businesses looking to give back during the holidays may be tricked into donating large sums of money to fake charities. Make sure you research charities thoroughly before making a donation, or call the charity to ensure you have the right organisations before. You can also check official registries and only donate through official channels. Likewise, make sure you avoid clicking any phishing emails or links.
Unfortunately, customers may also try to scam your business during the holiday season too, with 40 percent of customers falsely claiming fraudulent charges in previous years on their credit cards to receive refunds and 33 percent claiming their packages never arrived. Keep a close eye on your transactions and avoid “switching off” during the holiday period, especially after Christmas and during New Years, when the bulk of claims are made. Despite continuing increases in fraud, every year people fail to monitor their business accounts during the holidays.
Ultimately, maintaining awareness and vigilance is crucial during this period, but prevention is also half the battle. Putting stronger security and operational methods in place now could save your business the financial and mental headache of falling prey to seasonal scams
This post originally appeared on Kochie’s Business Builders. You can read the original here.
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