6 tips on fraud prevention for Alberta businesses
By ATB Financial 5 February 2020 4 min read
Tip 1: Slow down
Did you know that 1 in 4 Alberta businesses have been a victim of fraud or a fraud attempt? Help protect yourself from fraud with the following tips:
1. Educate yourself
Fraud is becoming more sophisticated. The best way to ensure you are protected against fraud is to ensure you are aware of the fraud schemes out there and what controls you need to put in place. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is a fantastic resource.
2. Ask questions
Before you click on an email from an unknown recipient, take the time to ask yourself:
- Does this email make sense?
- Was I expecting the email or attachments?
- What red flags for fraud do I see?
- Should I be receiving this email?
- Does this email seem overly urgent or does it play on my emotions?
- How can I verify the contents of this email?
And remember, your information is at risk regardless of the medium. Be aware when checking your email on your phone as well as your desktop.
3. Go with your gut
If something seems off (for example: tone, frequency of communication, who is communicating with you, etc), verify the contents of the email! Use contact details either from your internal records or the direct website as opposed to those contained in the email itself.
Tip 2: Be knowledgeable and aware of phishing techniques
Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain confidential information, such as usernames, passwords, and banking details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in a communication (email, phone, instant messaging, etc.)
Tips for identifying a phishing email:
- Pay attention to who is communicating with you
- Look out for a sense of urgency or use of fear tactics
- May imitate a known brand (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, Apple)
- The email may be impersonal or the tone formal
- May contain punctuation and grammar errors - but be aware, it may not!
Tip 3: Use unique and hard to guess passwords
There are important steps you can take to prevent hackers from accessing your password-protected information. Avoid choosing a password that would be easy to guess, or information that could easily be obtained by others like your name, your partner’s name, or the name of a child or pet. And most importantly, never share your password.
The five most common passwords are (are you using one of these?):
Here is a way to create a memorable, unique, and hard to guess password:
- Choose a phrase
Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder
- Take the first letters of the words in the phrase
- Add uppercase letters
- Expand, substitute, add numbers and special characters. Ensure your password is at least eight characters in length.
Tip 4: Understand cheque fraud
Criminals may steal, fake, alter, or forge a cheque to steal funds. While Payments Canada may have regulations in place for the return of forged cheque, it is often within 24 hours of the cheque being withdrawn from your account.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Practice safe cheque storage - locked and out of sight!
Never sign cheques in advance without completing all areas of the cheque first.
- Avoid mailing cheques - mail theft is often the root cause of fraudulent cheques.
- Reconcile your accounts regularly - we recommend daily. This will allow you to identify and report any discrepancies immediately.
- Consider using an electronic method of payment (email transfer, wires, pre-authorized payments). Used correctly, these can be safe alternatives.
Tip 5: Understand e-transfer fraud
Used properly, e-transfers can be a safe and efficient way of doing business. However, used without the proper safeguards, e-transfers can be a target for theft and fraud. Remember that e-transfers are immediate payment methods.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Use a unique and hard to guess password for each e-transfer. You may choose to select a password from a password database.
- Use a new password for each e-transfer.
- Don’t share your password. If you need to tell the recipient the password, use a seperate method (e.g. text or phone call), or use a password they will know.
- Sign up for the auto deposit option.
- Only send and accept e-transfers from someone you know and are expecting to receive funds from.
Tip 6: Understand wire fraud
Wire fraud can occur through a number of different fraudulent schemes, and involves a victim sending funds via wire or a fraud actor requesting a wire payment. These fraud schemes are often executed by email, including what are called Business Email Compromises, where either an entire communication via email is fraudulent, or a single email interjected in a legitimate conversation is fraudulent. The fraudulent email usually includes instructions to send funds to a new account or wire recipient. Wires are immediate and international, and it is very difficult to recuperate any of the stolen funds.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Carefully verify that the email addresses from which any payment instructions are received, especially if the email is informing you of a change to instructions or bank account.
- Call the sender / receiver of funds and verify any instructions provided or payment details. Use verified contact details, or contact details from a legitimate website, never from an email itself.
- Use two factor authentication.
- Slow Down! Red flags may be present. Ask questions and verify!
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, or you have any questions: contact your financial provider immediately as time is critical to recover funds. Your financial team will be able to support you through the entire process.