The most common scams your business should be aware of

David Beach3 minutes
TechnologyBusiness tips
The most common scams your business should be aware of
In this article

We’ve all received texts and emails that don’t look quite right. Usually, a blurry logo or unofficial email address gives the game away: it’s a scam.

But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to protect your business from fraud. Criminals are using more sophisticated technology and tactics to bypass security protocols. 

Last year, the Home Office revealed one in five UK companies fell victim to fraud between 2018 and 2020. 

That’s a lot of money lost – fraud costs UK businesses a predicted £158 billion every year. Around the world, it's predicted that $4.7 trillion is lost to fraud. In Western Europe, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners predicts each case of fraud costs a business $577,000 on average.

So, how can you spot and protect yourself from fraud? Keep reading for a list of the most common scams we’re seeing affect businesses today. 

Criminals go phishing

This scam is common both inside and outside of business. 

Typically, fraudsters will send you a text or email that looks official. The message will ask you to click on a link and enter sensitive information, like bank details.

Or, they will impersonate the CEO of a company to get hold of financial information (this is also called BEC fraud). Usually the scammer will call or email an employee pretending to be the CEO and ask for an urgent payment to be made, or for account details to be changed on an invoice.

Either way, the information or money ends up in the criminal's hands.

In 2022 alone, almost $3 billion was lost to BEC attacks. Plus, with the advancement of AI technology such as ChatGPT and deep-fake audio and video cloning technologies, tricksters are improving their CEO impersonations every day.

The company card goes missing

You may have multiple employees around the country (or world) using company cards to manage day-to-day expenses.

But, despite advanced security features, cards can still fall into the wrong hands. 

To avoid unauthorised transactions and lost funds, it's important you remain vigilant and act quickly if you spot any activity you don’t recognise. 

Encourage your employees to report lost or stolen cards immediately and educate them on why it’s important to buy from trusted merchants. 

You may also need to increase your security and compliance practices if card fraud is becoming common.

Spoofing fraud on invoices

Spoofing fraud on invoices is a sneaky method scammers use to intercept a legitimate payment and divert funds to them.

Fraudsters usually target accounts payable and finance team members through social engineering. 

They’ll do research and contact your team, impersonating an existing supplier via email or phone, and ask for account details on an invoice to be changed. Even more sophisticated criminals may hack your supplier’s email account and send requests directly.

Spoofing can easily slip through the net if you're not looking closely.

Your team should always double-check any changes to payment details directly with your supplier – though it might seem overkill, this extra layer of security can keep your money safe. 

Scammers pretend to be HMRC or a company you trust

It's surprisingly common for fraudsters to pose as HMRC or your electricity company (or another business you trust). They leverage the authority of the organisation to trick you into parting with money or confidential information. 

You might receive calls or emails threatening you with legal action or fines if you don’t pay fast. 

These scams can be hard to catch because the criminals are very good at spoofing phone numbers and emails to make them look legitimate. But remember, these organisations have clear communication protocols. 

HMRC will only contact you about tax refunds by sending you a letter, and your utilities companies wouldn’t ask you to move money or threaten you.

Keeping your business safe from fraudsters

Scams can hit any business hard, putting your finances, trust and stress levels under pressure. 

There’s no doubt fraudsters are targeting businesses more than ever before and using clever tactics to catch them out. But by staying vigilant of scams, you’re safer. 

Educate your team on how to recognise and respond to suspicious activity, and provide extra layers of security where necessary.

This is particularly important if you’re moving money internationally, as you may be a target for more scammers. 

Our advice is to partner with a payments provider that proactively protects your money. At Airwallex, our fraud protection engine helps keep our customers’ funds safe. Designed to find and prevent fraudulent transactions, every card payment is scanned in real-time.

If you think you’ve been tricked by a fraudster into sending them money or sharing sensitive information, make a report with Action Fraud today. 

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David Beach
Content Marketing Manager - EMEA

David manages the content for Airwallex. He specialises in content that helps EMEA businesses navigate global and local payments and banking.

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