04/06/2020 - Permalink

Coronavirus: Helping Shropshire businesses against scams

Related topics: Community / Coronavirus / Economic growth / Health / Partner organisations / Public protection

Shropshire Council’s regulatory services is looking to help prevent businesses from falling victim to sophisticated scams now and in the future.

Most businesses are already under significant pressure due to the pressures of COVID-19 and having to implement new procedures, like remote working. Scammers are now looking to take advantage of this potential change and related confusion by profiting at businesses’ expense.

Common scams

  • Government grant/tax refund scams – A business is contacted by Government imposters suggesting the business might qualify for a special COVID-19 Government grant or a tax refund.
  • Invoice/mandate scams – A business may be contacted out of the blue by someone claiming to be from a regular supplier. They state that their bank account details have changed and will ask you to change the payment details.
  • CEO scams – An employee receives contact from someone claiming to be a senior member of staff – they ask for an urgent payment to a new account and instil a sense of panic. Scammers may even hack a staff email account or use spoofing software to appear genuine.
  • Tech support scams – With more people working remotely and IT systems under pressure, criminals may impersonate well-known companies and offer to repair devices. Criminals are trying to gain computer access or get hold of passwords and login details. Once they have access, criminals can search the hard drive for valuable information.

How can businesses avoid falling victim to a scam?

  • Supporting people to use stronger passwords and setting up two factor authentication.
  • Ensuring staff know how to report problems, especially those related to security.
  • Creating ‘How to’ guides for new software and tools staff may be using.
  • Using VPNs to allow users to securely access the organisation’s IT services.

Advice like this and a host of other useful resources are being made available for free to businesses by the National Trading Standards Scams Team, and forms part of their new Businesses Against Scams initiative. Over 100 organisations have already joined the new initiative to combat fraud including NatWest, Places for People and the Co-operative Bank.

Businesses Against Scams is a new part of the already successful Friends Against Scams initiative, which aims to provide free online training to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/.

Karen Collier, Shropshire council’s regulatory services operations manager, said:

“Regulatory services work closely with National Trading Standards to protect both consumers and businesses against scams.

“Scammers targeting businesses of all sizes are becoming more and more sophisticated in how they operate. This is making it increasingly difficult to recover the information and funds they steal, especially for smaller businesses who may not have the expensive insurance to cover these losses.

“One of the best ways to avoid a situation like this is to use resources such as Businesses Against Scams, to train staff and prevent the fraud occurring in the first place.”

Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:-

“At a time when businesses are already under pressure to stay operational, there are criminals looking to capitalise on this and make a profit at their expense. It is important for businesses to take extra precautions against fraudulent activity, and protect not just themselves but their staff and customers as well.

“I would encourage all businesses to take advantage of the free training and resources being offered as part of Business Against Scams by visiting the website and signing up at: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/BAS.”

If you are concerned that your business has fallen victim to a scam you must contact your bank immediately. Also, please report any suspicious communication to Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/contact-us.

More information on scams can be found on our webpage: