Businesses are warned to be extra vigilant of fraud over Christmas.  Last year saw an increase in criminal cyber-attacks on UK businesses, according to the annual report of the National Cyber Security Centre.

John O’Rourke, partner at Baker Tilly Mooney Moore and member of the Fraud Advisory Panel said businesses are at risk all year round but with the Christmas rush approaching, we should remember to keep fraud defences at the forefront of daily operations.

John said “Fraudsters are always looking for opportunities to catch us off guard and unfortunately, all too often they succeed. ‘Friday Afternoon Fraud’, a term which typically applies to law firms, as most completions take place on a Friday – giving criminals the opportunity to seize funds and buy more time to avoid detection – is a phenomenon that’s on the increase and not just in the legal sector.

Although Friday afternoon fraud is the biggest cybercrime affecting the legal sector, businesses and consumers should be aware of this trend as many other sectors could easily become victim of Friday afternoon fraudsters.”

Thankfully, there are some basic measures you can put in place to help to recognise fraudulent attempts and to avoid being a victim of fraud.  John outlines his top tips below:

  • Remember, banks will never ask for security codes or passwords over the phone;
  • There should always be second authorisation for banking transactions;
  • If the supplier’s bank details change via telephone or email, always lift the phone and give your supplier a quick call to confirm banking changes prior to releasing funds;
  • Never allow remote access to your computer unless you have full knowledge of the person seeking access and are fully aware of their intentions once access has been gained;
  • Always confirm solicitor or client bank details changing at the last minute prior to a property purchase or sale;
  • Be aware of surprise text messages or e mails from financial service institutions or H.M. Revenue and Customs – always double check the provenance of these.

Make your staff aware of these tips and furthermore, invest in training your staff to stay alert to any unusual requests or activity.

To find out more contact John O’Rourke.