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How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Business Financial Fraud

With online scammers becoming increasingly sophisticated every year, it’s time for business owners to upgrade, update and reinforce their digital security measures alongside them.

No one wants to become the face of yet another identity theft story, discover their business accounts drained or have personal information stolen.

But what can we do to avoid such financial devastation?

While a full-proof system is yet to exist, there are steps in our control we can exercise to reduce the risks. Let’s also take a look at common indicators that it’s potentially already started.

Signs indicating you’re slowly becoming a victim

  • Unexpected changes in financial information

  • Strange expenses and transactions start to appear irregularly

  • Unexplained figures within accounts department documentation

  • Suspicious logins or failed login attempts to both personal and business accounts

Beware of the sites you’re surfing

In addition to thinking twice when browsing on work devices, it’s also important to keep your anti-virus software up to date. Click-bait ads, malware and even the more vicious ‘ransomware’ can all find their way onto your device, where generally, everything is connected financially.

Most people also usually save credit card information in their browsers for auto-filling and time-saving purposes. While convenient for business owners, this is undoubtedly a high-risk habit that’s no longer deemed as safe as it once claimed.

Take extra caution shopping online

Online shopping can be a digital minefield in terms of safely navigating your way around fraudsters. Those offers that seem too good to be true, most likely are!

Online or ‘platform-based’ shopping is incredibly convenient and a must-have for businesses these days. However, we need to be cautious of who we’re providing our information and never accept anything that seems free (as long as you enter credit card details).

Make sure the website you’re purchasing from begins with ‘https’ meaning it’s secure, as well as displaying the ‘lock’ icon in the address bar too.

Make password management a priority

Gone are the days of simple, guessable protection for everything from email to bank accounts - “jonh123” is longer going to cut it!

A two-step authentication process has become the new online security standard, especially when it comes to business-related accounts. It’s also wise to set up account recovery processes for a little extra protection.

Updating your passwords every three to six months is key, and never use the same words, phrases or PIN numbers twice. Think letters, numbers and special characters if your platforms allow it and never write down and store copies of combinations in your office.

Keep personal and business social media separate

Blending your weekend antics and business relationships into one big social media mess can not only be detrimental to your reputation but rather a field day for scammers too. Be careful who you befriend on certain platforms while being mindful of group spam messages.

Ensuring you have dedicated business and personal accounts is crucial with your privacy settings being your best defence.

Never accept connection requests from unfamiliar people and even if you’ve met the person previously at a networking event, for example, do some background research before accepting.

Ignore dodgy communications

What was originally reserved for emails has now crept into our text messages and social media messenger apps. Always be wary of suspicious messages you receive in any format, especially those containing links or providing instructions.

It’s wiser to call your financial institution directly or visit them rather than trust a text with a link asking you to log in to your banking apps. Anyone trying to rush you into accepting something or clicking on anything is also a huge red flag to be avoided.

Delete anything suspicious immediately, including strange requests to connect through social media.

Don’t fall for ‘low-risk’ investments

As an extension of our risky communications warning, some scammers might even target business owners with investment “opportunities”. These fraudsters will conduct research on your operations and the nature of your business to find bait suitable enough that you might just take it!

Getting involved even in the enquiry phases of these “opportunities” offered by unfamiliar people online is a no-no. If an investment was that amazing, why would anyone share it with a random person via the internet from another part of the world?

Check outgoings regularly

Setting up push notifications so you know when, where and how much money is being spent 24/7 is your best bet at tracking when your money’s going.

Oftentimes scammers set out to deduct denominations small enough to go unnoticed over long periods of time. They know that businesses usually have numerous transactions occurring daily with generally little to no supervision.

Unfortunately, most of these cases end up similar, meaning by the time the suspicious outgoings are discovered, the chances of recovery are slim to none.

Ignore unidentified software

Received a download request from a software company claiming they’re partnered with your bank? Big-time scam.

No Australian financial institution employee will ever ask you to download software, apps or any other programs to conduct banking activities. These are deliberately designed to gain access to your financial information, banking details and confidential data.

Hire a reputable bookkeeper

Onboarding a professional to regularly check over your financials and notify you of any suspicious findings is a remarkable extra line of defence. An expert in their field can offer services to help keep things on track and avoid common pitfalls initiated by online scammers.

While bookkeepers may not be able to stop cyber attacks, they can find discrepancies and suspicious activity as a preventative action to snowball fraud-related issues.

Contact Ironbark Industries Bookkeeping today to discuss our bookkeeping services, your specific requirements, or any other financial management enquiries.

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