Beware of the changing bank details scam

By Staff Writer
Criminals are becoming more sophisticated and they are constantly trying to find new and ingenious ways to fleece the public out of their money. The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) has recently warned that crooks are sending people emails or letters telling them that a supplier that they deal with has changed their banking account details.
 
Meanwhile, the supplier has not in fact changed their details. Instead, the criminal send the customer their banking details and when the unsuspecting victim send them the money (thinking they are paying their suppliers the money) the crooks make off with the money.
 
How can you prevent becoming a victim of this type of fraud?
 
There are ways to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud. Below Sabric have set out 13 measures to adopt to ensure that do not become a victim. Note that it’s not only individuals that have fallen victim to this crime but companies too. So circulate this information around to your staff members if you work for a company that deals with multiple suppliers.
 
Ways to avoid being a victim of change of bank details fraud
 
Maintain a good relationship with existing suppliers.
 
Always be wary of changing account details.  If a request is received, confirm in writing and by telephone to the supplier.
 
If talking to this ‘supplier’ on the telephone beforehand, they may ask about when you last sent payments to them, looking to see if you are still an active client. Again, ask to speak to contacts that you recognise and if necessary ask your contact to call you back.
 
Confirm notifications for any changes of banking details via official correspondence with your suppliers (such as a letter) using their contact details that you have in your database, preferably before processing the next payment.
 
Beware of supposedly confirmatory e-mails from almost identical e-mail addresses, such as .com instead of .co.za, or addresses that differ from the genuine one by perhaps one letter that can be easily missed.
 
Instruct staff with the responsibility for paying invoices to scrutinise invoices for irregularities. If you are suspicious of anything contact your supplier.
 
Make sure that you are certain of the identity of the person your business is dealing with at all times. Consider setting up designated ‘Single Points of Contact’ with companies to which you make regular payments.
 
Ensure that your company’s private information is not disclosed to third parties or third parties whose identities cannot be rightfully verified.
 
Shred your business and suppliers invoices or any communication material that may contain letterheads, than to discard in rubbish bins.
 
Consider reviewing previous requests to change account details to confirm whether they were genuine or not.
 
To avoid your customers acting on an instruction purporting to be from you, alert them to this type of fraud.
 
Ensure that you confirm any change of banking details with someone you usually deal with at the organisation before making any changes to beneficiary accounts. When calling the organisation to confirm the changes to banking details, use a number from the telephone directory and not the number on the letterhead or fax, as you will in all likelihood be calling the fraudster.
 
Question whether well-known companies would change their banking details without notifying people through more formal channels.
 
What can you do if you fall victim to this type of fraud?
 
Sabric advises victims to report the incident to the police immediately. It’s also possible to commence civil action against the fraudster to recover the funds. Finally, you should contact your insurance company or broker to see if this is an insurable loss.

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