Business Against Scams launched
You may recall that yours truly is a Scambassador, specially charged with using my influence (oh yes!) to raise the profile of prize promotions scams at a local and national level. Prizeology is also signed up to the Friends Against Scams campaign. This is an excellent initiative from National Trading Standards Scams Team, which aims to protect people from becoming victims of scams by empowering them to ‘take a stand against scams’.
Friends Against Scams is designed to inspire action, highlight the scale of the problem, change the perceptions of why people fall for scams, and make scams a topic of discussion in every community across the country. As I say, it does great work and it’s just launched what you might call a companion campaign called Businesses Against Scams.
Why now? Well, this is a particularly appropriate moment to inaugurate Businesses Against Scams, because, due to the Coronavirus lockdown, so many of us are working from home. That can mean increased stress, fewer opportunities to talk to colleagues and a different working environment, and those are all circumstances that criminals are leveraging and using to their advantage in order to commit fraud.
Whether you’re a company director or an employee, now your office is, in all probability, in the spare bedroom, you may have to make decisions on your own. It’s no longer easy to put your head up and check with a colleague if something seems suspicious, and accessing specialist expertise and support isn’t as straightforward as it probably once was. Unfortunately, all this makes businesses more susceptible to scams.
I recently wrote about the way scammers are ruthlessly exploiting people’s fears about Coronavirus and how ‘classic’ scams are being repurposed for the Covid-19 age. Common business-related frauds include government grant and tax rebate scams – which in these times could be really quite pertinent for many organisations – invoice or mandate fraud, tech support scams and CEO fraud. However, there are a few relatively easy actions that you can take to protect your business.
Protecting your business
For example, you can instigate stronger passwords and set up two-factor authentication (sometimes called multi-factor authentication). You might also consider implementing a virtual private network (VPN) which allows users to securely access your organisation’s IT services. You can create how-to guides for any tools that staff use, especially for new software you’re introducing – Zoom or similar would be the obvious candidate at present – which emphasise secure practices that reduce the risk of cybercrime. It’s also important to ensure people know how to report security problems if they do encounter them.
The other action you can take, of course, is to join Business Against Scams. All you need to do is go the Business Against Scams page on the Friends Against Scams website, fill in a short form and then sign up. Doing that will get you access to a range of resources, including postcards and posters, fact sheets and a PowerPoint presentation. This takes around 10 minutes to go through and gives examples of various different types of fraud, along with how to spot them and, most importantly, how to protect your business from them.
And, just to reassure you of the quality of the advice Business Against Scams provides, these resources have been approved by the Joint Fraud Taskforce and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, and have had input from the Home Office, UK Finance and the City of London Police. No matter what sector you operate in, I’d strongly encourage any business to take a look at what Business Against Scams is offering and to consider getting involved.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador.