How to protect your business from fraud overseas

08 May 2015

Multinational businesses can be potential targets of fraud schemes and extortion according to the Australian Government SmartTraveller website.

In 2013, almost $90 million was reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as lost due to scam activity. There were two claims made to the ACCC of losses of more than $1 million in individual cases.

There was also a 10 per cent increase in the number of scams reported to the ACCC, with a total of 91,927 claims made by consumers and small businesses. The top three reported scams were advanced fee/up-front payment (28,748), phishing and identity theft (15,264) and computer hacking (10,415). Phishing refers to email scams that ask the recipient for bank details.

Common scams include emails reportedly from the Nigerian Government that offer millions of dollars to visa scams where fake websites are set up in the guise of legitimate visa services.

Step 1: Awareness

Employees should be aware of common scams they may be exposed to when they travel for business. If you or someone in the business becomes aware of a scam, it is important to tell others about it so they do not also fall victim.

Step 2: Put the appropriate safeguards in place

Make sure staff know they are not to provide business or banking information to any unauthorised person. Your company should also have straightforward procedures in place for the verification, payment and management of invoices and accounts.

Talk to your IT department and check that up-to-date, reputable computer protection software is also installed.

Step 3: Report anything suspicious to the authorities

Before your staff leave on business travel make sure they know which authorities should be contacted if they are the victim of fraud, or think they are dealing with a scam. In Australia, individuals and businesses should report any suspicious activity to the police. The scam should also be reported to the ACCC.