Spokane Journal of Business

Fighting fraud must be priority for small business

Remaining vigilant is important to protect against attacks, attempts

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Small business owners have a lot on their plate, but fighting fraud should be a priority.

Fraudsters often pretend to be someone you can trust and create a sense of urgency to act quickly. For example, a fraudster could compromise a business email and request a money transfer to a specified account, often via a wire transfer. Once the wire is sent, the fraudster has the funds, and it’s nearly impossible to recover them.

Other common scenarios small business owners may fall victim to include having their phone or computer compromised, their business checks stolen, or someone forging their signature on important documents.

Remaining vigilant against fraudsters is important to avoid scams. Here are three tips for small business owners to protect themselves.

Don’t share passwords or access codes. Like with personal computers or phones, small business owners need to make sure to keep their business passwords, files, and financial information safe and secure.

Fraudsters often try to trick people into sharing passwords or enticing them to click a link that will give access to a device. Fraudsters may then call, text, or email to obtain a temporary access code that a financial institution may have sent to a trusted device.

Before clicking a link or entering a password on a website, owners should verify it’s legitimate. Red flags to look out for include typos in the email or web address, or an unusual request from a known client or supplier. Financial institutions typically never call, text, or email asking for temporary access codes.

Fraudsters also can try to get employees to give out sensitive information over the phone. Owners need to be very leery of requests to provide passwords or financial information over the phone and never give temporary access codes to anyone over the phone in response to a text or email request, even if the caller claims to be calling from a government agency or a trusted vendor.

Stop and verify the request by contacting the company directly using a trusted source, such as the company’s website or the phone number printed on the back of the company’s card.

Be knowledgeable and educate employees. There are many different tactics and variations of scams that fraudsters use. Business owners need to make sure they are knowledgeable about common scams and how to protect against them. If there is suspicion of fraud activity on an account, it is critical to promptly take the following steps to protect the account:

•Contact the bank or financial institution to safeguard the account.

•Contact local police or the local FBI office to report the fraud.

•Notify employees so everyone can participate in protecting the business and identifying the fraudsters.

•Upgrade cybersecurity protocols. The Federal Trade Commission, Small Business Administration, and FBI offer helpful guidelines.

Take advantage of resources and tools. Proactively use any tools offered to detect unusual activity and manage account access.

Set up account alerts to help quickly detect and report unusual activity that could indicate fraud. Set up alerts to be notified when a purchase or withdrawal is made on a business account. If something doesn’t seem right, contact the bank right away.

Manage account access. Routinely review and monitor who has access to business accounts, and remove access when needed.

Use additional layers of security. Many banks may offer an additional layer of security to help protect business and personal information and prevent unauthorized transactions. For example, require an access code to confirm the employee’s identity when completing certain transactions or changes. Explore additional sign-in options the bank may offer, such as two-step verification and biometrics.

  • Jesse Von Feldt

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