Businesses beware: Festive fraudsters are out for your money

- December 6, 2022 4 MIN READ


This year has been rife with scams, data breaches and online fraud, and with the silly season around the corner this is set to intensify, writes Chris Dahl, co-CEO Pin Payments.

Last year, Australians lost a whopping $2 billion to scams, according to the ACCC. This year it’s set to get worse with fraudsters becoming more sophisticated and aggressive in targeting businesses and individuals.

Research released by Norton, has revealed that 74 per cent of Aussies will cut costs this holiday season and fraudsters are using the rising costs of living to prey upon individuals and businesses looking for savings and deals.

With fraud on the rise, here are some tips to prevent your business from falling prey to savvy scammers this holiday season.

Tips for businesses to avoid festive fraud

Data breach warning showing on laptop and phone

Check your accounts for unusual transactions

During the holiday season, it’s all too easy to let your guard down, especially when you’re on vacation. However, maintaining vigilance over your accounts is vital during this time of year, as scammers prey on businesses and individuals who go quiet over this period.

Keep a close eye on your business accounts and customer transactions for unusual purchases or high value orders that may be above your average transaction price. Make sure you investigate any irregular behaviour during this time, as fraudsters know how busy your business can be in the lead up to Christmas. Make sure you verify any usual activities with your customers and be sure to check the delivery order details with them before you send anything.

Unfortunately, customers may also try to scam your business during the holiday season too, with 40 per cent of customers falsely claiming fraudulent charges on their credit cards to receive refunds and 33 per cent claiming their packages never arrived!

Watch out for account takeover fraud

Australians lost three times more money from account takeover scams in 2021 than the previous year, with scammers securing more than $7.2 million dollars, up by 184 per cent.

Account takeover fraud happens when someone gains access to your business account through a compromised password, and then proceeds to access your other accounts and applications. Account takeovers aren’t uncommon, especially during holiday periods, as business owners are often distracted and busy. The challenge with this type of fraud is that it isn’t always obvious to the person being hacked. Enable two-factor authentication on accounts that are related to finances or anything sensitive to you and your business.

Stay vigilant over the holidays, and monitor your accounts and your customer’s online behaviours. If you see anything unusual, make sure you investigate further.

Be careful of scam websites and emails

Scam websites are extremely popular this time of year, with new sites popping up promising significant discounts or highly sought-after products, just to lure you in. With the cost of living increasing this year, scammers are set to prey on individuals and businesses who are in search of a bargain. According to research by Norton, 11 per cent of people said they would still click on a questionable link, if it offered substantial savings.

If you’re making any business purchases, be wary of anything that’s too good to be true or of items which are out of stock elsewhere or are rare. Red flags to watch out for include emails luring you to click links, a website with everything on sale (unless it’s marketed as a sale event) and unsafe purchase methods such as bank transfers.

Also, watch out for websites or invoices that include bank transfers as a payment method, as there is no easy way to reclaim the funds if it’s a scam (like there is with chargebacks when using cards).

Be sure to only visit secure websites with a https page and check the business refund policy to make sure it’s legitimate. If your business doesn’t have a fraud or refund policy in place, now would be a good time to develop them, to give your customers greater confidence at Christmas.

Don’t fall prey to ‘switching off’ over Christmas, Boxing Day and NYE

Finally, whilst it might be tempting as a business owner to ‘switch off’ during the holidays, especially after a challenging year, scammers will prey on this. The silly season is a scammer’s most lucrative and profitable time of year – like bad elves, they prey on the fact that business owners’ attention is often divided by festivities.

Despite the rise in fraud, every single year people fail to monitor their business accounts during the holidays. Communicate to your customers and staff the importance of staying vigilant over the holidays, as well as increasing any business or personal security on all accounts. As a bare minimum, make sure you’re using two-factor authentication, have different passwords across your accounts, and limit who has access to your personal or business information.

After all, with fraud and scams on the rise, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your business this Christmas.

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Now read this:

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