Protect your business against holiday fraud – here’s how

November 2022

<p>Protect your business against holiday fraud – here’s how</p>

The winter holidays bring a surge of activity to businesses of all kinds—from hotels and restaurants to big-box retailers and local craft shops. But along with the sales uptick, companies experience a spike in cybercrime and fraud during these festive—and busy—final weeks of the year. Here are steps business owners and employees can take to prevent scammers from putting a damper on the holiday season.

Shore up your fraud prevention tools

As a business owner, you have an assortment of fraud prevention tools and best practices at your fingertips. Now is the time to:

  • Update systems with the latest hardware and software, including routers, browsers, applications, security systems, and any employee or point-of-sale devices.
  • Monitor your accounts frequently and set up online alerts to identify suspicious activity.
  • Verify your employee access rights and credentials frequently – and especially now.
  • Identify a clear chain of command for payment processing, including any new employees who will be involved.
  • Implement dual controls on payments and ensure separation of duties to prevent mistakes, overpayments and fraudulent transactions.

Empower employees to shut down scams and fraud attempts

During the holidays, retailers and other companies may hire seasonal staff to supplement their normal workforce and manage higher business volume. Whether or not there are new faces on your team, everyone probably has more on their plate than usual. First, it’s absolutely critical to review vendor payment policies with all employees. While you’re at it, share these tips and reminders to help them guard against fraud attempts like email and payment scams:

  • Use longer passphrases, at least 15 characters, and never reuse the same password across multiple systems and portals.
  • Change passwords frequently, and if you believe a password was compromised, change it right away and notify tech support.
  • Use multi-factor authentication on social media accounts, banking apps and anywhere else it’s offered for an additional layer of protection.
  • Do not click on email links, open attachments or share login credentials or other personal or business information to unverified email contacts. Between 2016 and 2021, business email compromise scams increased by 65% and cost businesses worldwide more than $43 million.
  • Never provide sensitive information (passwords, login credentials, one-time passcodes, account numbers or identifying information) over the phone or through text messages. KeyBank will never call unexpectedly and ask to verify this information.
  • Keep in mind that fraudsters will often spoof area codes, phone numbers and even caller ID, so don’t share any sensitive information without verifying the recipient. When in doubt, reach out to your known contact through a trusted phone number.
  • Malware and spoofed websites are increasingly common fraud tactics, so confirm the validity of websites for vendors and financial institutions before entering any sensitive information.
  • Double check charitable donations and causes. According to a 2021 AARP survey, 38% of respondents reported receiving suspicious requests for donations during the holidays.

The holidays should be the most wonderful time of the year for your customers, employees, and the company—but not for scammers and criminals. With a little extra preparation and care, you and your employees can thwart attempted fraud and protect your business during this busy and joyful season. To learn more about KeyBank’s Core Fraud Solutions and Merchant Fraud Solutions, call your Payments Advisor or Relationship Manager.

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