As business payment fraud skyrockets, are you protected?

(BPT) - Whether your business is small, medium or large, as an owner you're probably all too familiar with the threats of payment fraud. A proactive approach can make a big difference in reducing your chances of experiencing this common type of fraud, saving you significant time, money and stress.

A whopping 74% of businesses were victims of payment fraud, according to the 2017 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Payments Fraud and Control Survey. What’s more, 75% of that fraud was from check fraud. According to the AFP survey, the top three types of business payment fraud are:

Check fraud

Check fraud continues to be the most common type of payment fraud, as paper checks remain a commonly used payment method by businesses. Fraudsters can acquire unsecured check stock directly from the business or intercept mail to get a check that they will chemically wash to alter payment information.

Wire transfer fraud

This type of fraud is the second-most reported type of payment fraud — increasing 40% since 2011. The dramatic increase in wire transfer fraud is commonly associated with an increase in Business Email Compromise (BEC) tactics, typically where fraudsters gather valuable information about businesses and then write an email posing as an employee or business leader requesting urgent funds be wired quickly.

Corporate credit card fraud

Currently the third-most common type of payment fraud, incidents of credit card fraud tend to have more upward and downward swings from year to year that seem to coincide with large data breaches at retailers where card data was stolen.

Twenty-nine percent of businesses that responded to the AFP survey said they had experienced payment fraud with potential losses of $250,000 or more. And a staggering 8% of those expect potential losses to exceed $2 million.

Experts advise business owners to be particularly cautious about BEC scams as fraudsters are increasingly using this strategy in clever new ways.

“Business owners need to be as diligent in preventing fraud as criminals are in committing it,” said Andy Harmening, Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Consumer and Business Banking at Huntington. “Fortunately, there are great resources available for business owners to help them safeguard their businesses and their customers.”

BEC scams have evolved beyond the fraudulent transfer of funds. During the last tax season, criminals targeted human resource departments posing as company executives requesting employee W2 information via email. This information was then used in a variety of identity theft scams.

Here are some tips to help prevent BEC:

  • Keep login credentials private and secure.
  • Be suspicious of requests for secrecy or to act quickly.
  • Don’t rely on email when requests are made to change payment instructions. Verify identity by using a known phone number, not a number in the email.
  • Beware that fraudsters attempt to make emails look legitimate by using the name and logo of a real company.
  • Look for poorly worded messages and grammatical errors.
  • Remember that government agencies will never request a wire transfer.
  • Watch for common phrases "code to admin expenses” or “urgent wire transfer."
  • Report suspicious phone calls, emails and texts.

Additionally, whether it’s BEC or another type of business payment fraud, it’s important to work with a bank that offers tools to help you proactively negate threats. For example, Huntington offers a variety of fraud mitigation tools, such as Check Positive Pay that provides early detection of fraudulent, altered or counterfeit checks through a daily verification of checks presented for payment against a check issue file. Another useful tool is Reverse Positive Pay, which allows business leaders to review checks posted before actually paying them, so you can flag fraud before it happens.

To learn more about cybersecurity tools, best practices and resources you may want to consider as you develop an approach to protecting your organization, visit huntington.com/Banking-That-Cares.