Three quarters fear fraudsters are one step ahead

Three quarters (73 per cent) of UK businesses believe that fraudsters who carry out payments fraud are now ‘ahead of the industry’, according to a report from Vocalink, a Mastercard company.

The Populus survey of more than 500 senior decision makers of UK businesses found that despite one in five (22 per cent) firms reporting someone had previously attempted payments fraud on their business, plus a further one in ten (12 per cent) falling victim to this type of scam, many still lack the systems needed to deal with these intrusions.

Just under a third (32 per cent) of UK businesses have tightened their processes to deal with payments fraud and nearly one in five (17 per cent) say their accounts team don’t have any processes in place, according to the report.

Payments fraud can come in many guises such as invoice and mandate fraud, as well as so-called chief executive fraud, when a fraudster poses as a senior decision-maker within the business and emails employees to transfer money to a particular account.

A quarter (26 per cent) of UK businesses are still unaware of this types of scam, with half (53 per cent) saying the biggest barrier to protecting their business against fraud is not knowing enough about how fraudsters are able to attack.

Almost four in ten (37 per cent) business owners or directors who have either been a victim of payment fraud, or know a business who has been, reported that thousands of pounds were lost as a result. One in ten (10 per cent) even contemplated closing their business as a result of the incident.

According to figures from UK Finance, in the first half of 2018, a total of £145.4 million was lost due to authorised push payment scams.

More than three quarters (82 per cent) of those asked by Vocalink said they wanted banks and government to take more action protect the business community from payments fraud.

Currently, the process of repatriating stolen funds to the victims of fraud and scams generally requires a court order. Vocalink said it was calling for a change in the law to enable financial institutions to repatriate stolen funds more easily.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: "With criminals becoming ever more inventive when it comes to scamming money from companies, it is imperative the financial services sector continues to work together to prevent existing and emerging types of fraud.

“The industry is constantly investing in advanced security systems to protect customers, and successfully prevents £2 in every £3 of attempted unauthorised fraud - the development and deployment of innovative technological solutions are a key part of this fight.

It comes after a study by Business in the Community found that a third of the UK’s small businesses are without any cyber security strategy, prompting warnings that a lack of preparedness for a cyber attack could cost firms and their users thousands of pounds.

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