Entries tagged with “fraud”.

Fraud can have disastrous consequences on a small business. Knowing how to identify your risk factors is a key element when it comes to preventing fraud within your enterprise. Because small businesses are more prone to spending less time and money on fraud prevention due to limited assets, the risk is vastly higher than those of huge corporations.

Due to technologies such as mobile devices that can span numerous operating systems, criminals now have even more ways to infiltrate in-house networks to steal your information.

Even though it may sound daunting, small businesses can administer safeguards and procedures that can maximize fraud detection. Consider the following low-cost strategies that can lessen the possibility of fraud for your small business.

-When hiring new employees, be thorough. Call all former employers and always conduct a background check. This can help you to single out potential candidates that may have a criminal background.
-Make sure to implement a standard code of conduct and share it with all of your employees. Make sure that they are aware of any repercussions for not following appropriate protocols.
-Keep close track of all of your bank statements. Be aware of how much is coming in and going out at all times. Being detail-oriented and watching out for inconsistencies is crucial when it comes to taking control of your finances.
-Use firewalls and anti-malware software. Protect your network by using unique passwords that have random upper and lower case letters and numbers.

Sadly, no business is free of the threat of fraudulent behavior. Being diligent when it comes to identifying your risk factors can greatly diminish the chance of being a victim. If you would like more information on fraud prevention, please contact us.

Living in a modern world of convenience has left us open to vulnerability and fraud. Unfortunately businesses, no matter the size, are not immune to fraud.    According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), companies with less than 100 employees lose approximately $155,000 as a result of fraud  each year. It can happen to anyone at any time. To protect yourself and your business, here are some tips on fraud prevention for small businesses.

Credit Cards and Bank Accounts

It seems like common sense to keep this information private, but it is the most common area of fraud in the United States. The first way to protect your  business from fraud is to separate all personal credit cards and bank accounts from your business accounts. This will help protect the business if a fraudster  gets their grubby fingers on your personal information.

Make smart decisions when it comes to credit card usage. Don’t allow employees to use your card or give out your card number to anyone, employee or vendor, in person or over the phone. Making the switch from paper bills to online billing not only helps the environment, but keeps your credit card information from falling into the wrong hands. Using online billing also enables you to check your accounts on a daily basis for any unusual activity. Catching suspicious activities right away minimizes any loss or damage.

Phishing Scams

If you have an email, chances are that you have received a “phishing” email. Whether it’s the Nigerian Prince wanting to transfer money to your account or someone posing as a legitimate business asking for personal renewal information, many people fall victim to these scams every day.  Their goal is to get your personal information in order to steal your money and identity.  While many of these scams seem legit, there are easy ways to recognize if it’s real or not.  Click here to check out an article on how you can better recognize and protect yourself from these scams.

Password Policies

Having a policy in place for passwords is another huge help in protecting your company from fraud. Passwords should be changed regularly, every 60-90 days or so, and you’ll want to establish a new password for each online account. Making your passwords unique is a great precaution as well. A good password will include a combination of letters and numbers so that it’s harder to guess.

Computer Security

In today’s business world, securing your computer is vital. With increasing usage of computers, we are more susceptible to security problems.  A few precautions to take as a business owner should be to have firewalls installed, anti-virus set up to frequently scan for viruses and have routine checks for updates of the computer operating system.  You also want to exercise good care when downloading software or opening attachments.  If you ever suspect that your computer isn’t running normally, have your computer analyzed by a qualified technician.       

Staying Safe Online

One of the easiest ways that businesses get hit is online.  We’ve seen recently a number of well-known companies fall victim to cyber crimes and security breaches including Target and Home Depot.  Smaller businesses have actually started to become bigger targets because cyber criminals know they have fewer resources for defense.  Companies should assess their risks when it comes to potential cyber-attacks and see what policies or procedures they have in place to prevent it.  As companies become more dependent on the internet, they need to take necessary steps to protect sensitive information like customer data, financial records, and intellectual property.  Check out this article on assessing your risk from Staysafeonline.org.

Fraud can happen to any business, even when precautions are taken. Taking the steps to prevent it and following these tips will help lessen the blow if it does occur and help you get back on your feet faster. For more information on safeguarding your business, please contact us.

When you have a small business, one of the things you want to do is to make sure that you’re protecting your business, clients, and employees from fraud.  Below are seven tips for fraud prevention for small businesses that will help you stay secure and protect everything and everyone in your business.

-Use checks that are high security – Check fraud is the most common type of fraud when it comes to business payment, and businesses don’t have the same protection as consumers. Use checks that are high security to stop check forgery, check copying, and check washing.

-Review business financial statements regularly – It’s essential to review all of your business account statements personally. Make sure that you’re watching for suspicious transfers and withdrawals, along with checks that were written to unrecognizable vendors.

-Secure important documents – Keep your business and client files, along with your employees’ information, secure and away from general access. This includes any documents with your account numbers, the payment information of clients, SSNs of employees, and your TIN.

-Shred your sensitive documents – Many fraudsters will go through recycling and trash bins to get account information. Be very diligent about shredding the documents which contain sensitive or proprietary information.

-Be aware of suspicious phone or email inquiries – Make sure that you are validating any requests for personal or sensitive information coming by phone or email, including requests that come from a financial institution.

-Use excellent network protection – Make sure that you install firewalls and update the security software for your network on a regular basis.  Create strict policies regarding remote access and employee permission for network access.

-Have a plan – It’s essential to have a plan in place if you discover financial activity that is unauthorized or a breach in data. You have to know the next steps to take and your responsibilities. If you are conducting business with consumers, you’ll have certain responsibilities legally for notifying them and remedying the breach.

The best thing that you can do for fraud protection in your business is to prevent it before it happens. Be sure that you are doing everything in your power to protect your business’ assets and the sensitive information of your customers.  You will be well respected and you will have a better chance of success since your customers will know you have their best interests at heart.

If you would like to know more about our services or what we can do for your business, contact us and let us tell you what we can do for you.

You may have seen headlines (small ones, but headlines nonetheless) regarding the re-authorization of the Safe Web Act.  The full name of the act, which is far more descriptive of its actual function, is ‘‘Undertaking Spam, Spyware, And Fraud Enforcement With Enforcers beyond Borders Act of 2006.’’  As implied in its title, the bill was originally passed in 2006, but was set to expire this year unless it was re-authorized.  On Dec. 7, 2012, President Obama re-authorized the act until 2020.  So does this mean that the web is now safe all the time for everyone?  No, but it allows the Federal Trade Commission certain powers that enable them to find and prosecute scammers, even if they are not domestic criminals.

The main thrust of the act is to allow the FTC to go beyond the US borders when investigating online criminal activity, especially as related to consumer protection. the act empowers the FTC to share information about scams and the criminals behind them with foreign law enforcement agencies.  Previously, the FTC had been restricted to sharing only with other US agencies.  Additionally, the FTC is empowered to aid foreign agencies in the investigation of online scams.  Further, the FTC will have the right to get information from foreign agencies.  The law provides “enhanced investigative and litigating tools” to the FTC to allow them to pursue investigation and actions more effectively.

This is not a complete summary of the law, but it does allow consumers to know that the FTC takes online scams and fraud very seriously and has been empowered, through 2020, to pursue these criminals even if they are not within the boundaries of the United States.  As Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), the bills lead sponsor says, “This is a win-win. It’s good for American consumers. It’s good for the future of e-commerce. And it’s the right thing to do for our nation and our friends around the world.”

Barnes and Noble has reported that PIN entry devices in dozens of its stores have been hacked.  According to the company, one device in each of 63 different stores  had been compromised. The company said that its website and purchase made on the Nook were not impacted by the breach.    Reports indicate that the stores involved in the compromise were located in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. B&N is working with banks to notify affected customers.    The company acted swiftly in disconnecting the devices in all of its more than 700 stores once the breach was discovered. Further, the company altered the process for using a card to a more secure method.  Rather than swiping the card, the consumer will now hand the cashier the card to be swiped, a process the company believes to be more secure.

There are two security issues at play here. The first is the question of physical security.  How many times have you walked into a grocery store, or any store for that matter, and used the PIN pad device without the assistance of the clerk?  While that certainly adds convenience, it can also introduce risk.  The following video demonstrates just how easy it can be to compromise a PIN pad machine.

As you can see, without the proper physical security, attaching a skimming device or tampering with the machine can take just a matter of seconds. If you are accepting cards it is vitally important to think about the physical security of the data, as well as the technical security.  If you use a mobile device, ensure that it is with you at all times.  If it is not with you, it should be locked in a secured location.  If you are using a Point of Sale solution or a PIN pad device, make sure that it is secured to the counter and that you can tell whether or not the device has been altered.  In the video above, the clerk noticed that machine had been tampered with and was able to prevent the theft of data.

The second issue at play here is the technical aspect of security.  This is of particular consequence, because thieves that are able to access full card data can make counterfeit cards and the volume of fraudulent transactions increases significantly.  To counter this, the PCI SSC has drafted a number of documents specifically aimed at protecting PIN pad devices.  You can find all of the PCI SSC security documents on the Library section of their website.

Security of transaction data is not an “online only” problem.  Thieves are able to extrapolate physical theft into credit card fraud.  That means the physical instruments that we use to accept credit card transactions must be afforded the same level of protection as the systems in which we store that data (e.g. databases or POS applications).