A leading Commercial Debt Collection firm has today warned UK Businesses to be on guard after reports of a increase in scam activities involving con artists purporting to be legitimate credit control departments or Debt Collection Agencies.
Federal Management have alerted the Business community as a result of receiving a startling number of calls from their clients, worried about the massive increase in spurious emails demanding urgent payment. Some clients are reportedly receiving up to 50 emails a week from criminals trying to extract money from them under false pretences.
The most common scams activities involve emails being sent from what appear to be legitimate Companies but then request payment to be made to scammer’s bank accounts. The activity of ‘impersonating’ legitimate businesses is nothing new however it appears to be on the increase.
A spokesperson from Federal Management told us “Due to the alarming number of calls we have been receiving from distressed clients about these elaborate debt collection scam activities, we thought it prudent to try and spread the message to the wider business community to be on guard against any spurious contact they receive, demanding monies”
“These criminals carry a wide range of guises and Businesses need to ensure they are aware of the threat of such scams.”
There has also been reports of ‘fake’ bailiffs and debt collectors contacting businesses by phone, claiming immediate payment for phantom debts that do not exist. The caller will allege there is a debt outstanding and if full payment is not made, the caller then threatens that there will be visits to the premise to remove goods or collect the payment in full.
The caller will demand the payment is made by bank transfer only.
Typical types of businesses that are being contacted range from Childrens nurseries, Manufacturers, Hotels and other companies that provide services to the public.
Emails being received by companies can also contain suspect ‘phishing’ attachments.
Be on guard!
- Always verify any new requests for orders, transfers, or changes to financial details by using contact details already on file, or obtained from open source records (such as the company website). Consider doing so via two separate methods (e.g. email and telephone), in case one or the other has been hijacked by the fraudsters.
- Consider sending a confirmation email and/or text message to your supplier when an invoice is paid, which includes the beneficiary bank name and last four digits of the account number that the payment has been sent to.
- Where funds have been paid out as a result of the scam, contact your bank and the beneficiary bank as soon as possible, so that they can attempt to prevent the onward dispersal of the funds.
- Ensure your computer antivirus software is up-to-date and that your staff receive regular reminders and training with respect to the on-going threats from malware and phishing emails, including social network invitations.
- Consider what your business makes publically available, with respect to existing contracts and suppliers. Evaluate whether it is really necessary to publish information of this type in the public domain, given that it is also available to fraudsters.
- Ensure that all of your members of staff are aware of these scams and of the relevant security protocols in place to identify and prevent them.
Action Fraud, part of the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Unit also echoed Federal Management’s call for companies to be wary of unexpected demands for payment. Any company who suspects they have been the target of such attempted scam activities are advised to report the crime to Action Fraud by calling them direct on 0300 123 2040