Online corporate identity fraud
In the last decade, identity fraud has grown from being a problem for individuals, to an epidemic affecting a wide range of businesses. Advancements in technology have allowed fraudsters from within Australia and overseas to target anyone with an online identity.
New research suggests it can take more than a year for some people to discover that they have been a victim of identity fraud, by which time a great deal of damage may have been done. Corporate identity fraud can ruin the reputation of an otherwise successful business.
Identity fraud is relatively well publicised in the media and some of the more commonly known methods include:
• Searching through rubbish bins to find discarded documents such as blank credit card statements
• Intercepting mail
• Copying credit cards during transactions at a shop or online
• Phishing scams - emails that look as though they have come from a bank or similar organisation, asking customers to ‘confirm’ their details by return email
Businesses are increasingly at risk of fraudsters seeking to use their details for financial gain. There is a growing trend of criminal activity in this area, with fraudsters registering as company directors, purchasing goods with corporate accounts and leaving the company with the debt.
A common method involves accessing online company records and changing the details of the company directors to create a false address for goods to be sent to. Fraudsters can also use publicly available company bank accounts and signatures for fraudulent activity.
If possible, remove details of your company on all public internet sites. As well as fraudsters, there are individuals who gather company details and sell them. Your details are then placed on marketing communication lists which will mean you get more spam and telemarketing calls.
Reduce the risk
As fraudulent technology advances, so does firewall security and the public’s general knowledge of fraud.
Here are a few steps to help to protect your business:
• Store sensitive documents in a secure place and ensure only a handful of staff have access to them
• Shred documents before disposing of them
• Check your registered company details regularly to ensure they have not been changed
• Train staff to be aware of the issues surrounding identity fraud and limit the access of sensitive information to key staff members only
• Check customer details before offering them credit
• Ensure that your firewall and anti-virus software is up to date. Only open emails from legitimate or known accounts
• Keep bank account details out of the public domain
• If you suspect your bank account has been hacked, contact your bank immediately. The faster they know about the security breach, the more likely they will be able to track down your missing funds.
There is no place for complacency about fraud. By being vigilant and implementing the steps mentioned above, you can help protect yourself and your business from becoming a victim of fraud.
More about fraud
This is an Australian Government website with information about current and past scams that have been reported operating in Australia. Users can report scams and get links to other Government websites.
Information for individuals and businesses to help avoid falling into an online scam. There is a comprehensive help section for victims of scams.
This is an American site, but has very useful tips on increasing awareness about internet scams. This site also has a comprehensive forum where international users discuss their experience with scammers.