Fraud can have devastating repercussions, so make sure it doesn’t happen to you or your business.
Fraud costs the UK economy £190bn last year, according to research by Experian. It’s a staggering amount of money – more than the Government spends on health and defence combined.
Protecting your business
Almost three-quarters of fraud happens in the private sector, so if you’re running a business it’s vital to consider the following:
Know your business inside out
This includes understanding the risks relating to your staff, products or services and customers and what your legal and regulatory obligations are. This will help you detect when something isn’t right.
Understand who you’re doing business with
This will help identify when a seemingly ordinary business request or transaction looks out of the ordinary and could potentially be fraudulent.
Think about how a fraudster might target your business from inside and out and test the systems you have in place to reduce your risk. Make sure everyone knows how the systems work and review them regularly.
Make sure your business technology is protected against cyber-crime. Back up your systems regularly in case something goes wrong.
Think about how money leaves your business – including who has authority to make payments and who checks they’re legitimate. It sounds simple, but make sure you always check your bank statements.
Make sure laptops, computers, smart phones and intellectual property are secure and protected. Keep and update inventories and check your insurance cover.
We all need to be vigilant on a personal level too. the Financial Conduct Authority and the Pensions Regulator have launched a TV advertising campaign to warn about pension scams to raise awareness of the most common tactics used by fraudsters.
Pension scams often involve people being persuaded to transfer or cash in their pension pots and put the money into exotic-sounding investments. These scams have been around for many years but have really picked up since April 2015 when the Government introduced reforms giving over-55s more freedom to cash-in their pensions.
If you’re dealing with a firm offering pension investment advice, you can check here to see whether they’re authorised by the regulator: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
Some other current scams to be wary of include:
‘Get rich quick’ schemes
Bogus investments in mining and trading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Fake investment opportunities playing on fears about Brexit. For example, fraudsters may email you, warning that Brexit will affect your savings, and urging you to move them urgently into a seemingly plausible, but actually fake, investment product.
Often students recruited via social media to inadvertently launder money. They receive the stolen funds into their account, and are then asked to withdraw it and send the money to a different account, often overseas, keeping some of the money for themselves.
How to stay in control
Don’t assume that a professional-looking website or social media post is a genuine investment opportunity.
Don’t rush into making decisions about investments.
Get independent advice and thoroughly research companies you’re thinking of investing with.
Be sceptical – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are dealing with HMRC – their guide to scams and phishing is available here: https://www.gov.uk/topic/dealing-with-hmrc/phishing-scams
If you do become a victim of fraud or cyber-crime report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/