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Australian businesses in the sights of scammers

How Australian businesses can protect themselves from scams and cyber crime

Small businesses are being warned to watch their company email systems as scammers turn their sights onto Australia’s business sector.

The Customer Owned Banking Association has warned that scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach to cybercrime by manipulating the processes, systems and even staff members of businesses. After infiltrating the system, scammers seek to steal or redirect payments for bills or suppliers to their own accounts.


COBA’s Director of Services and Financial Crime Leanne Vale has echoed warnings from the ACCC that scams targeting businesses are on the rise.

“Scammers don’t remain stagnant; they constantly try to evolve their practices to counteract the efforts of businesses and police to shut them down.

Ms Vale warned that while the crime is on the rise, there are things businesses can do to stop fraud from taking place.

“Be very wary of unsolicited emails asking for information, payment or a change of systems. If suppliers request a change of account details call them first to confirm.

“Keep all systems, processes and structures confidential. Criminals gain knowledge about a company’s internal workings and processes through infiltration and gaining confidence of staff. Establishing a rigorous process for validating all requests for payment or information is crucial.

“A common time for scammers to target business is when a regular staff member goes on leave. Sharing details of staff changes and roles on social media and networking sites needs careful and considered risk management.

“If you think your payment has been redirected without your knowledge or a supplier contacts you to say they haven’t received a payment, contact your bank immediately. You should also speak to your bank first if your organisation needs to send large value payments,” said Ms Vale.

The tips from COBA follow reports from the ACCC that Australian businesses reported more than 5,800 scams with losses exceeding $7.2 million in 2018.

COBA has also recommended Australian businesses visit the Australia’s Cyber Security Centre website for more information.


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