Email scams (what you need to know)

According to the ACCC, in 2018 Australian businesses reported over 5800 scams and a staggering $7.2 million in losses. This is largely a result of the $3.8 million lost to high-level ‘business email compromise’ scams.

While smaller businesses account for more than 75% of reports to the ACCC, this type of scam targets businesses of all shapes and sizes that transfer money via bank accounts. Scamwatch has even received reports of the hackers intercepting house deposits that have been transferred to conveyancers, real estate agents and law firms.

The sophisticated operations include scammers requesting changes to bank account details, where mostly businesses make payments to the scammers rather than the intended business.  If businesses do not become aware of the loss immediately, it can cause catastrophic financial losses, especially for smaller companies.

Hacking, phishing and investment scams also caused major losses for businesses in 2018.

So how can you protect yourselves and your clients?

Firstly, staff need to be aware of the scams so they can easily identify and avoid them.

Businesses should also embed foolproof processes for financial transactions and clear procedures for changing bank account details. This should include multi-person approval processes for transfers over a certain dollar threshold.  Having a good firewall, keeping IT security, anti-virus and anti-spyware software up-to-date is also critical.

Check with your suppliers if you notice a change in your account details and ensure you have the correct contact details so that you are contacting a legitimate source, not the scammers.

Want to know more?

To learn more about scams and how to protect yourselves, visit www.scamwatch.gov.au .

You can also sign up to the ACCC’s Small Business Information Network to receive emails about resources, consumer laws and current scams.