Individuals and companies – big and small – are vulnerable to all kinds of fraud, including:
- Identity theft, which affects both individuals and companies. It involves obtaining a victim’s personal information and then using this in an unauthorised way for personal gain.
- Internal fraud, which occurs when fraud is committed by a company’s employees, such as asset misappropriation and fraudulent statements.
- Business directory scams, which occur when your business is offered, by post or email, free advertising but then billed for the service.
- Supply scams, which occur when employees are tricked into ordering or paying for office equipment and other goods and services.
Due to the level of unemployment among the youths (which is no excuse to enter into a life of crime), many young men and women have embraced being fraudsters and scammers as a way of life. Their fraudulent activities are not limited to online scams, where they hide behind the screen. They sometimes show up in person to ensure their scams succeed.
You don’t need to be reminded that when you are a victim of fraud it can have grave repercussions on your revenue and/or your reputation. It can also lead to your business failing. This is the reason why it is important to take proactive steps to ensure that you do not fall victim to fraudsters and scammers.
Fraudsters are ingenious, sophisticated and creative, therefore businesses should have a clear anti-fraud policy and plan in place to protect themselves. Here are a few ways to protect your business:
- Set up a fraud training and awareness programme. Scammers and fraudsters are out there, so be vigilant and on the lookout. Examine all approaches. An Igbo proverb goes, “a person who is out to cheat you has the upper hand because you are not usually suspicious”. Train staff to be attentive, cautious and know how to identify and prevent suspected fraudulent activity.
- Questioning the legitimacy of every inquiry — no matter how official it may appear to be. Scammers are finding new and innovative ways every day to rip people off.
- Be watchful for any deals that sound too good to be true, including online and on social media.
- Guard against internal fraud by creating a reporting hotline, introducing a whistle-blowing policy and having clear delegations of authority to sign legal and financial documents.
- If you receive a suspicious email, delete it.
- If you question the legitimacy of a phone call from an unfamiliar source, hang up.
- If you get something in the mail asking you for personal information or credit card details, throw it out.
- Trust your instincts — they could save your business or your employer from becoming the victim of fraud.
- Report a scam. Most victims of fraud do not report their experiences to law enforcement agencies. By reporting a scam, you can provide law enforcement with the information they need to stop fraudsters and prevent others from becoming victims.
- Record and document evidence. If you file a complaint, it is important to submit any evidence, such as correspondence via email, text and whatever means of communications that was used. If monies were paid out, provide evidence of how these payments were made. This can enable law enforcement to trace the recipient.