Identity fraud awareness is being promoted by the Australian Federal Police and other agencies this month. Half a million Australians are affected by identity fraud each year, costing the community almost $170 million.
Businesses can also become victims of corporate identity fraud. Criminals can then trade off the back of the real company’s good name to obtain goods and services on credit from suppliers. This is not the only area of risk. Fraudsters can obtain signatures from public records and attempt to attack company bank accounts by purporting to be the signatory on the account.
Businesses can put measures in place to make it harder for criminals to use their organisation for criminal activity. Many of the rules that apply to individuals can be adapted to protect business.
Always check the identity of your customers. Credit reference agencies can help here.
Keep your firewall and anti-virus software is kept up-to-date. Make sure you store and dispose of documents properly. If documents contain sensitive business information they should be securely filed and then shredded or securely disposed of when you no longer need them. Make sure that only key members of staff have access to highly sensitive documents.
Your staff also need to understand fraud risks and be vigilant against fraud too.
More and more businesses are doing business online. It is essential that you know how to protect yourself and your customers from online card fraud. The Australian Payments Clearing Association has a new online tool to help small businesses to protect themselves. There are questionairres, case studies and basic checks and tips. Visit www.apca.com.au/getsmart.
The Australian Federal Police website or Scamwatch.com.au are also good sources of information.
Finally, if you are a victim of fraud, including identity fraud, make sure you contact the relevant authority to report this crime.
Greg Taylor is deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer for the Hunter-based Greater Building Society. This blog also appeared in the Newcastle Post, October 10 2012.