With the holiday season approaching in earnest, both consumers and businesses should be on high alert for attempted fraud attacks. As we head into October, which is designated as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, our goal is to focus in on how businesses can recognize and fight back against fraud.
Jeff Snow, Mabrey Bank’s Director of BSA, Fraud & Security, SVP, is an expert on financial fraud with a more than 20-year career in banking, including the last four at Mabrey. We caught up with Jeff to chat about how businesses can remain secure against fraud and offer up both some preventative and reactive solutions.
1) Thanks so much for your time, Jeff. We’ll start here…what are key signs and red flags that businesses should be vigilant about to recognize fraudulent behavior?
Jeff: One of the biggest red flags for businesses are emails received that include changes to payment instructions. Business email compromise is a major issue right now with criminals hacking into email accounts and using that access to redirect payments to fraudulent accounts.
Another sign or red flag of possible fraud via email could be when a “vendor” reports they are missing a payment. This should serve as a recognizable warning sign if an email like this is unexpected.
2) Are there any emerging or particularly damaging trends you have seen recently when it comes to corporate fraud victimizing businesses?
Jeff: Mail theft and the resulting check fraud has become a big problem for banks and businesses. Check payments sent through the mail are often stolen out of mailboxes, dropoff boxes, or even by postal service employees themselves.
The stolen checks are then altered to new payees with different amounts and can be duplicated for use in other fraud schemes.
3) In the unfortunate event that fraud does occur to a business, what are some immediate steps that a business can take to keep the problem from exacerbating?
Jeff: Any fraud discovered should be reported to that business’ bank immediately. In some cases, the bank can recover funds lost in a fraud scheme, but timing is critical and every minute counts.
Bank personnel can walk you through steps to prevent future fraud like changing online passwords, closing compromised accounts and opening new ones, etc. Businesses can call our main number at (888) 272-8866, and our in-house Customer Service team can direct you.
4) What are some best practices and practical tips for businesses to protect their assets and accounts from fraud?
Jeff: Firstly, when possible, limit check writing and use electronic methods for the payment of bills and invoices. Don’t be intimidated by technology! Digital payments are often quicker, easier and ultimately more secure than physical checks delivered by mail. Discover Mabrey Digital Banking for your business here.
Another easy step for a business is when receiving new payment instructions or changes to existing instruction via email, it’s always smart to call and speak to someone you know to verify those payment details. This second method of verification should help root out the basic business email compromise attempts.
Finally, cyber insurance coverage is available and should be considered.
5) What tools and resources does Mabrey Bank offer to businesses to help recognize, combat and prevent fraud?
Jeff: If a business does write checks, it should use Positive Pay to prevent check fraud, which is a product I highly recommend. Positive Pay allows bank customers to upload lists of legitimate checks with payee names, amounts and check numbers. Checks presented for payment are then compared to the lists by the bank for verification.
At Mabrey, we offer this at no cost to our business customers, and it’s the best tool to prevent check fraud as checks that are not listed in Positive Pay are returned unpaid. We also offer a similar service for ACH payments.
Online Bill Pay through Mabrey Digital Banking is a great way to pay bills without writing and mailing checks and is always secure.
If a business is interested in any of these resources at Mabrey, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Treasury Services department via phone at (918) 366-1440 or by filling out our contact form and selecting “Treasury Services” from the dropdown menu.