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One out of every five small businesses has been victimized by fraud. Was it yours? We are very concerned about the rising costs of fraud on small businesses. In fact, members impacted by fraud tell us they lost on average $6,200 to scammers last year.
Fraud – A big threat to small business is our groundbreaking report that studies the effect on fraud from a small business perspective.
Through our research and conversations with members, we have determined there are four major types of fraud committed against small business.
Credit card fraud is one of the most common types of fraud that you can face. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, there are over 68.5 million credit cards in circulation in Canada. Although less than 1% of cards are compromised, that still represents hundreds of millions of dollars lost.
Card present: stolen or counterfeit
Card present fraud is when the credit card is physically present during the transaction. According to Stats Canada, most retail fraud is done in person. Unlike shoplifters, who often will avoid eye contact and make a quick exit, fraudsters can be:
The importance of the Chip-and-PIN:
When a cardholder makes an in-store purchase at a chip-activated terminal, the chip card generates a unique one-time code that’s needed for the transaction to be approved — a feature that is virtually impossible to replicate in a counterfeit card. Canadian chip cards used at your place of business that are not processed using a chip device will shift the fraud liability to you.
If you suspect someone trying to commit fraud during a transaction, you can call your payment authorization centre and ask for a “Code 10” and they can coach you from there.
Card not present: Fraud on the rise
Card not present fraud simply means the credit card is not physically present during the transaction this includes transaction is done over the phone or online. According to the RCMP, this is one of the fastest growing types of fraud in Canada.
How does it work?
There are many variations, but two look like this:
A fraudster will call wanting to make a purchase with a credit card. This could be the actual card holder who is intending to defraud your business, or it could be a stolen credit card. The script may sound like this:
“My son is going to school in your town and I want to purchase him a computer on my credit card. Can I pay for that and have him come and pick it up?” The authorization will be approved on the credit card when the merchant calls it in. Naturally, the merchant will believe all is well and allow the merchandise to be picked up. Later the transaction will be reported as fraud.
A fraudster will call and ask for products to being shipped or delivered elsewhere – this often happens with building supplies dropped off at “job sites.”
The transaction will be approved when called in, the supplies will be delivered to the job site – which is likely to be unmanned. The fraudsters swoop in, steal the materials and disappear.
Typically the next day or so, the merchant will be advised from their processor that the transaction is fraudulent
Unfortunately, because Chip-and-PIN is not used during card not present transactions, there is next to no recourse to help you to recoup the loss of income or product.
According to Statistics Canada, only 15% of businesses with fewer than 20 employees report credit card fraud but fraudsters will often hit multiple businesses in a small local area in a short period of time. That is why you need to report all fraud.
To report a fraud: gather as much information as you can and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the RCMP or your local police department.
Tips to protect your business from credit card fraud
Always ensure your POS systems are chip-enabled. You can do so by contacting your Acquirer/Payment Process.
Sometimes a merchant can do everything correct on their end, and still end up holding an empty bag. Such is the case of Friendly Fraud.
According to the Competition Bureau’s Little Black Book of Scams, directory fraud, also known as unsolicited advertising, is one of the most common types of fraud committed against small businesses.
Our Counsellors hear from many members who have received an invoice for advertisements in a locally distributed directory. Sometimes these invoices are actually solicitations for listings in business directories, but sometimes they provide you with nothing but a demand for payment.
A directory scam can appear to be as innocent as an invitation to update your information for records. It might feature names you are familiar with, such as Yellow Pages or Google, or they might even have recognizable logos, such as the walking fingers.
Members caught in this scheme have received bills for thousands of dollars and harassing phone calls threatening court and collections.
Another scam that plagues small businesses occurs when companies send boxes of office supplies that were never ordered with a big price tag attached. These boxes might contain toner, receipt paper – you name it. Often, small print on the invoice will claim that the opening of the box constitutes consent to buy and you may be stuck with supplies you never ordered.
How to spot the fraud:
If someone is trying to collect on an invoice you suspect is fraudulent, request a copy of the contract or agreement the company is referencing. If they cannot produce a contract with your written signature on it, their claims are invalid. Sometimes companies will forge the signature of employees or former employees, many of which do not even have signing authority for the business. No signature; no contract; nothing owed.
Internal fraud is also known as occupational fraud, workplace fraud, and employee fraud can encompass a range of activities from outright theft, falsifying accounts, to even abusing flexible working hours. Internal fraud can lead to financial losses, damage to a business’ reputation, and create legal implications, not to mention the impact it can have on morale in the workplace.
Three ways to protect your business
Fraud is not always intentional – a lack of awareness amongst employees of things like information security and privacy regulations can allow others to commit fraud against your business and your customers.
One of the most important aspects of a thriving small business is to ensure that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) requirements are being followed. OHS regulations have several layers, vary from province to province, and occasionally change with little notice. It is no wonder that Occupational Health and Safety is the subject of common scams aimed at small businesses.
We hear from members about two main types of scams involving health and safety.
We know you care about your business and the well-being of your employees and customers. Not surprisingly, when a call comes in insisting you must purchase an expensive “government-approved” first-aid kit with automatic refills that can be billed directly to your credit card, it might seem like a prudent thing to do; however, these costly kits are often over and above what is actually required by provincial regulations.
Did you know?
Health and Safety training
Our Counsellors get daily calls from members to advise us that they have been solicited to purchase training in occupational health and safety. These courses might be for Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems (WHMIS, workplace violence and harassment training, or to provide the business with updates on “new” or “changed” regulations.
Why it’s a problem:
What you need to know:
Don’t get caught spending unnecessary time and money on requirements that don’t apply to your business.
For information on your Occupational Health and Safety requirements, you can find the federal and your provincial contact information on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website.