Places for People, Natwest and the Co-operative Bank are among the first companies to join Businesses Against Scams, a new initiative to combat fraud.
As more people across the UK work from home, scammers are taking advantage, using a variety of practises in an effort to get information and money.
Business Against Scams, a cross-industry initiative led by National Trading Standard, provides free tools for businesses to upskill and train their workforce to help identify and prevent scams.
More than 100 organisations are spearheading the initiative as more companies and employees adjust to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing their exposure to sophisticated business scams.
Remote working presents new cyber security challenges, with security dependent on the resilience of home Wi-Fi routers and colleagues getting used to new software and devices.
The initiative provides free online training modules, including examples of prominent scams and how to avoid falling victim.
Places for People Group Chief Executive, David Cowans, said:
“It’s important that businesses of all kinds do what they can to be resilient against fraudsters, that’s why we’re pleased to be a founding member of Businesses Against Scams. The free tools offered by initiative will help protect customers, employees and businesses from falling victim to scams.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“Scams not only deceive legitimate businesses, they risk undermining the UK's economic recovery. As more employees work from home, we’re urging businesses to protect themselves, their employees and their customers to help prevent significant financial losses or data protection breaches.”
The types of scams directly targeting businesses include tax refund fraud, which can lead to significant financial losses for businesses. Scams targeting customers also undermine businesses, as criminals often impersonate businesses to defraud their customer base, causing reputational damage and potential loss of business. The emotional and mental impact on employees who have fallen victim to a scam can also be devastating and long-lasting.
Louise Baxter, Head of the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:
“We’ve launched Businesses Against Scams as a free tool for organisations to help safeguard their business and protect their workforce and customers. More than 100 businesses have already signed up to the free training, which is empowering businesses and employees – who are all adapting to new working environments – to take a stand against scams by equipping them with advice and knowledge on how to identify and prevent a scam.”
Allison Simon, Head of Fraud, Commercial Banking, NatWest Group said:
“During this uncertain period, fraudsters are using the anxiety and stress caused by the crisis to try and target individuals and businesses with seemingly legitimate and convincing requests. It’s more important than ever that our customers are aware and alert to this increased threat, and its why we’re pleased to be a founding member of Businesses Against Scams, in partnership with National Trading Standards.
We’d encourage all businesses to remember three basic tips to keep themselves safe. Firstly, never rely on just an email to validate payment – contact the sender on a trusted number. Second, NatWest will never telephone you asking you transfer money to a new or safe account. And finally, if you receive a request from a supplier to update bank account details, always call back using a trusted contact number to check it’s genuine.”
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said:
“Scams are despicable at any time, but particularly so if they seek to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As businesses adopt new working practices in response to the outbreak, it is important they stay vigilant against scams.
“I urge business leaders to sign up to the excellent Businesses Against Scams initiative and make use of free training to help protect their employees, customers and businesses from being taken advantage of during this difficult period and beyond.”
To find out more, visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk