As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of scams against businesses has increased.
Free scams training
To help businesses be more aware and to prevent fraud National Trading Standards has launched Businesses Against Scams – a free online training tool.
If you believe your business has been scammed
You must contact your bank immediately and report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud.
Telephone 0300 123 2040
Visit the Action Fraud website.
How scammers work
With remote working and many businesses having to stop or diversify their trading practices, criminals are seizing the opportunity to target employees who are isolated from colleagues.
Scams include criminals impersonating government officials or a senior member of the business in order to put pressure on employees to give out sensitive information or make payments.
Criminals will also try and gain access to businesses devices and networks, and everything stored on them. They can do this by:
- sending emails with malicious attachments
- exploiting vulnerabilities in your operating systems if they are not up-to-date
- trying to get you to click links or visit malicious websites
Scams targeting customers also undermine businesses, as criminals often impersonate businesses to defraud their customer base, causing reputational damage and potential loss of business.
The most common types of fraud
There are many different ways that your business can be targeted for fraud.
Government grant and tax refund scams
A business is contacted by phone, email or post by government imposters suggesting the business might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant or a tax refund. Variations on the scheme involve contacts through text messages, social media posts and messages.
Invoice and mandate scams
A business may be contacted out of the blue by someone claiming to be from a regular supplier. They state that their bank account details have changed and will ask you to change the payment details. Use contact details that you have used before to check that it is genuine.
CEO impersonation scams
A sophisticated scam that plays on the authority of company directors and senior managers. An employee receives a phone call or email from someone claiming to be a senior member of staff – they ask for an urgent payment to a new account and instil a sense of panic. Scammers may even hack a staff email account or use spoofing software to appear genuine.
Tech support scams
With more people working remotely and IT systems under pressure, criminals may impersonate well-known companies and offer to repair devices. Criminals are trying to gain computer access or get hold of passwords and login details. Once they have access, criminals can search the hard drive for valuable information.