Continuing our series on crime prevention strategies for business, we focus on the deceptive and dishonest practices which are costing businesses not only in monetary terms but in reputation, image and in some cases, their very existence.
Drawing on the resources of the NSW Police Force we’ve gathered valuable information and strategies to provide you with resources to assist you in protecting your business against some prevalent fraud issues and scams.
Fraud is a very diverse and broad crime category and unfortunately, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology, each year both individuals and businesses are defrauded by organisations and scams with cost to business in the billions of dollars. Having knowledge can empower you, at least in part, to preventing you becoming yet another victim.
Credit Card Fraud
With transactions becoming more cashless, businesses need to be on the alert for credit card fraud. It’s been around forever, but is still prevalent and with the emergence of identity theft, growing.
The NSW Police website provide some very important guidelines in regard to ‘in person’ as opposed to online credit card payments. Be alert for any customer who acts suspiciously, looks agitated and nervous and is keen to rush the sale process and anyone who arrives at closing time, thinking they’ll catch you off-guard. If they don’t appear concerned about the size or price of the purchase, that’s another sign to watch out for as they may not be paying with their own money.
A major ‘tell’ that Police warn of is when the purchaser asks for a transaction to be entered manually and then signs their name quite slowly, instead of using a PIN.
Producing fake credit cards is big business for organised crime groups so you should always closely inspect cards which raise your suspicions. Check for any damage on the card, the expiry date, ensure the hologram is 3D and tilt it to ensure the colour changes. If you have a Warning Bulletin, check if the card is listed. Although PINs and Paywave are increasingly popular, cards still have signature panels so you can check if the card has been signed or altered and that the signature by the customer matches the one on the card.
If you have any doubts, err on the side of caution, especially if it is a large purchase, and ask for photo identification. From the end of October 2019, Service NSW rolled out the new Digital Drivers Licence across the state, so you should update yourself on the security aspects of this new app at www.service.nsw.gov.au It is a new way to check ID and proof of age and businesses should be across the details of how to see all the features of a genuine DDL.
If you still not satisfied that the card is genuine, call the credit card company for authorisation.
Especially if you’re in retail or hospitality, your EFTPOS machine is likely your business lifeblood. Treat it as a very valuable asset and one which requires its own security. Don’t let anyone service your terminal without checking all their credentials and change the password regularly.
Despite the move to ‘cashless’, counterfeit notes continue to be detected across Australia. As crime groups launch new counterfeit notes into different areas, it is wise to stay across local updates by checking in with the local Police Area Command Facebook page.
The Reserve Bank of Australia provides a downloadable counterfeit detection guide which you should browse to see the visual representations.
Here are a few quick tips: Australian notes are printed on special plastic polymer which is difficult to tear so feel the note. Ensure the Australian Coat of Arms is clearly displayed and check the micro printed words which should be visible with a microscope. On the main design of the note, feel for the slightly raised printing.
If you do think you have received a counterfeit note, police advise to handle it as little as possible, tell the person you are going to call police and CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY! If the person leaves and you don’t have them captured on CCTV, make notes of their description to assist police.
Being vigilant is better than being sorry.
Unfortunately there are individuals in society that don’t share your high values, morals and business ethics and are only out to make a quick dollar at anyone’s expense. Online scams are widespread and a big topic for a future issue. For now, we’ll focus on a few simple tips in regard to keeping you aware.
Whether it’s a supplier, a tradie doing work on your home or business or any other service provider, police advise to only do business with companies you know and trust. Smarter Macarthur has a directory of local businesses which we encourage you to utilise.
If someone is trying to sell to you, beware of pressure tactics – people who rush you to complete the sale.
Whether a person-to-person encounter or a phone transaction, ask for full identification and especially their ABN. If you have doubts, conclude the conversation and tell them you will call them back shortly. Then go onto the Australian Securities and Investment Commission website www.asic.gov.au or call 1300 300 630 and check the credentials. You can easily do an ABN search. It is not uncommon for unscrupulous people to use any ABN they find on their business documents.
For tradespeople, especially in the building and construction sector, ask to see their licence and then check this at https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/check-builder-or-tradesperson-licence to ensure it is genuine.
Don’t automatically trust website reviews, we all know that these can easily be completely fake.
So as not to be ‘taken for a ride’ always get quotes in writing and read the fine print and terms and conditions and confirm these back to the supplier to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
Proving Your Authenticity
One positive side of scammers is the opportunity for genuine business people, especially tradies, to proudly and easily prove their own authenticity and credentials. Make sure you have all your licence and qualification details handy so customers can quickly confirm your identify and your credentials and you can get on with the job.
Contacts and Resources
These are such large topics that we can only provide a basic overview. We strongly advise that you use the links and resources below to stay across updates in the fraud crime space and in future issues we’ll cover more crime prevention strategies.
Campbelltown Police Area Command: 65 Queen Street, Campbelltown 02 4620 1199
Camden Police Area Command Cnr Camden Valley Way and Wilson Crescent, Narellan 02 4632 4499
Reserve Bank of Australia
Digital Drivers Licence and Trade Licence Checks
Trade Licence Applications www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
ABN and Company Checks www.asic.gov.au