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Watchdog warns of scammers targeting SMEs

by Emma Ryan4 minute read

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned small businesses about online scammers, after a WA brokerage opened up about its own recent fraud experience.

ACCC deputy chairman Dr Michael Shaper, said the amount of scams reported has jumped nationwide, with research suggesting that SMEs are more likely to fall victim to scammers than general members of the public.

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“[The issue] is right across the country and pretty evenly spread by state and territory,” he said.

“In 2011, we were getting less than 200 reports from small businesses but last calendar year, we had more than 4,500.”

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Mr Schaper said defrauding cases are common in this space, due to the majority of businesses electing to go online.

“Businesses are encouraged to go online because the costs are much cheaper, you reach the customers and it’s convenient,” he said.

“However, the online environment also provides a very fertile field for scammers, much more so than the old, pre-internet age or far more manual tools.”

Mr Schaper said there are a few things that small businesses can do to decrease the risks.

“One of the things we recommend is that you have more than one person paying the bills, or at least a second person running an eye over them,” he said.

“The second thing goes without saying. Keep your IT, even the basic protection, up-to-date, have a hard-copy backup [of transactions] and keep it visibly separate.

“If there’s any requests to change a customer’s details pick up the phone and talk to them first – it’s all simple but necessary things.”

[Related: Online scammers defraud brokerage]

Watchdog warns of scammers targeting SMEs
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