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Viewpoint: Simple Steps Businesses can do to Fight Fraud

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By Ray Abbott

Ray Abbott

As financial institutions develop innovative ways to protect the accounts of businesses large and small, criminals are developing their own strategies.

According to Accenture, 45% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. Meanwhile, hackers with sophisticated techniques like keylogging, malware, phishing and pharming have become the biggest dangers to bank accounts.

The caveat used to be “buyer beware,” but today businesses and the financial institutions who protect their accounts must be even more diligent about the digital dangers lurking across the Web.

According to the same study by Accenture, cyberattacks are expected to cost businesses $5.2 trillion worldwide within five years, and according to security software company Symantec, 36 percent of all targeted cyberattacks have been made against businesses with fewer than 250 employees.

So how can business owners protect against cyberattacks in 2020? Here are best practices to help keep your accounts safe.

Setup Alerts in Online Banking

One of the fastest ways to find out an outside actor has accessed your account is to set up online banking alerts, which can be set up to notify the account holder when wire or book transfers come out of the account.

Think Before You Click

Exposure to spyware and viruses, let alone malicious ads that clutter and slow your computer, can be detrimental to a company’s network. Be careful when accessing links and attachments, hover over hyperlinks to make sure the web address isn’t part of a fraud scheme. Take these precautions with email but also social media. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook direct messages are popular places for fraudsters to share links that can allow them to access your devices and account information.

Don’t Rely on Email Instructions

In fact, don’t rely on email at all when working with your financial institution. Instead, make a call to your banker and verbally validate with the person making the request to ensure it’s from a trusted source before sending money solely based on an email request.  The same holds true with vendors and partners. Confirm any and all changes received via email such as address or account payable information.

Reconcile Daily

I often recommend customers reconcile accounts on a daily basis. Strong account oversight, including a separation of duties, is absolutely essential to mitigating the risk of fraud and hacks.

Keep One Device for Banking

A very simple method to protecting your account information online is to dedicate just one device that will be used for online banking. Often times, this will seem impractical for small businesses but we have found this can be an effective strategy.

IT Controls

Employing a strong Information Technology team can make your work environment far more difficult for fraudsters to infiltrate. However, while IT professionals may be up to date on the latest dangers, this doesn’t mean the rest of your employees are on the same level. Hosting periodic employee awareness training sessions are an important way to keep everyone up to speed.

Dual Control

Dual control is among the most powerful ways to protect an account because the process requires two individuals to complete a transaction, which is especially helpful when one individual may fall victim to a phishing scam. Recently, a CEO of a well-known company fell victim to a phishing attack, however, since the company’s account had dual control, hackers were unable to transfer funds or process a transaction, keeping the account safe until further measures could be taken.

Stay safe

While these tips provide a layered approach to account security, it’s just as important for the business owner to understand the role of the Administrator who typically is responsible for allowing access to business accounts.

Tech can be hard to keep up with because it constantly changes. Businesses, both large and small, must work to catch up and close the gap between how they operated offline prior to the outbreak and how they must operate now and in the post-COVID 19 economy.


Ray Abbott is head of cash management for WSFS Bank in Wilmington.

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