Impersonation is when fraudsters pretend to be from known organisations or authorities in the hope that you’ll share personal or banking information – or even transfer money out of your bank account. It was the most common scam criminals used to target businesses in 2020.
How the scam works
You might get a call from someone who claims to be from a recognisable organisation like your bank or HMRC. A scam caller will try to convince you that your money isn’t safe, that your account is at risk, or that legal action is being taken against you. They’ll give you details of a new bank account and say you need to transfer your money there. However, once you’ve made that transfer, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see your money again. In other cases, a caller might pretend to be from the Police or other law enforcement agencies and ask you to transfer money to ‘assist an investigation’. This is a scam.
The caller might already know some of your information. They can sound professional, and it might seem like they’re calling from the correct number. Phone numbers on caller display can be faked (also known as ‘spoofing’) to look like the real thing, so don’t place your trust in the caller ID alone.
Scam caller tactics include
- Asking for your personal information or bank login details
- Claiming to be from your internet provider or a known retailer
- Telling you to download software onto your computer, smartphone or tablet
- It can be difficult to spot that you’re talking to a scam caller, so here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Four tips to fight fraud
- Banks and other organisations (including the Police and law enforcement agencies) won’t ever ask you to transfer money to another account, or to give them your mobile or online banking passcodes. If any caller asks you to do this, it’s likely to be a scam
- If you find yourself in this situation, take the caller’s details and end the call. Wait five minutes, then call the company on a number you’ve found independently, for example by checking their official website. A genuine caller is unlikely to mind you double-checking. You should never download any software that a caller asks you to
- If you get a text or email you weren’t expecting – even if it looks like it’s from a recognised company – don’t follow any instructions without making checks first. You might be asked to click a link, call a phone number or transfer money – you should never do this until you’ve made sure the message is genuine.
- Make sure all your staff know what to do – scammers use email and text messages as well as calls, so it’s important that everyone is prepared.
Make sure your paying the correct person
Before you pay someone, make sure the payee name matches the organisation you’re doing business with. If you enter the payee’s information and the result is ‘no match’ or ‘partial match’, contact the payee directly to check the payment request is genuine, using a phone number you’ve found independently.
Scammers will often encourage you to ignore warning signs like account details not matching the payee name, or telling you which payment reason to enter when you’re prompted to do so. Remember, always independently check the account details of the organisation you’re paying. This is even more important if the bank you’re using isn’t signed up to CoP, because you won’t be shown a warning message.
The same applies when you’re asking people to pay you. Give customers your registered or trading name so that they know they’re sending their payment to the right company.
SRC-Time are one of the South East’s leading accountancy firms in advising businesses in all aspects of their accounting and tax affairs and we are able to assist in any issue raised above.
Our expert team is available to provide you with advice and can be contacted on 01273 326 556 or you can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak with an account manager to get any process started.