NAB: Australian small businesses targets of half of all cybercrime

Tom Watson

16 Oct 2019

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There’s no doubt about it - an increasingly globalised world provides a range of benefits for Australian businesses small and large, but it comes with a darker side. 

According to NAB, cybercrime is costing the Australian economy over $1 billion a year and Australian businesses are right in the firing line with half of all cybercrime targeted at small businesses

“Across Australia and often in regional areas, we see hundreds of small businesses and agribusinesses every year who are unfortunately targeted by cyber criminals through tactics like identity theft, romance scams and invoice fraud,” said NAB Chief Customer Officer Business and Private Banking, Anthony Healy. 

“As Australia’s leading business bank, we recognise the important role we can play to help our customers understand how they can better protect their business from cyber criminals.” 

The comments from Mr Healy came as NAB launched the Small Business Cyber Security Summit in Canberra on Monday, with the bank also releasing a new small business toolkit aimed at helping businesses identify and prevent common scams. 

Read on below for three common ways small businesses are being targeted and solutions they can use to prevent being scammed.

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Three common small business scams 

1. Fake billing or invoice scams 

The scam: According to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, there have been 8,269 cases of false billing scams resulting in over $7 million in loses in 2019 alone. These scams occur when scammers send out fake invoices to businesses asking for payment for anything from supplies to website domain renewal. They can even be sent from a legitimate supplier or business you commonly deal with if their email address has been compromised. 

How to protect your business: Both Scamwatch and NAB state that the best way for businesses to safeguard themselves against fake billing or invoice scams is through vigilance. Querying invoices or payment requests from unfamiliar sources is a must, as is contacting existing suppliers if they send through an invoice at an unusual time or with a different bank account in order to confirm whether or not it’s legitimate.       

2. Tax scams 

The scam: Many Aussies have likely received a dodgy call from someone pretending to be from the Australian Tax Office and figures show just how common these can be, with the ATO reporting that it had received over 40,000 reports of impersonation scams just in the period from January to April 2019! 

According to NAB, there are two common small business tax scams. The first is scammers claiming to need personal and bank details in order to send a business a tax refund. The second is scammers claiming that a tax debt is owed which needs to be paid immediately (with a credit card, money transfer or even a git card) in order to avoid arrest. 

How to protect your business: While the ATO has stated that it may contact businesses via a phone call, email or SMS, it has also released the following advice to help taxpayers remain cautious: 

- The ATO will not send an email or SMS asking taxpayers to click on a link directing them to any login page

- The ATO will not threaten taxpayers with immediate arrest, jail or deportation

- The ATO will not request payment via iTunes or Google Play cards, prepaid cards, cryptocurrency or to a personal bank account

- The ATO will not request a fee in order to release a refund

3. Payment Scams 

The scam: There a number of different common payment scams, including overpayment scams. 

One example NAB gives is a ‘terminal takeover’ scam in which a scammer asks to take hold of a payment terminal when paying for goods or services. The scammer then cancels the original payment request (often while distracting the cashier) and enters a new payment amount far higher than the original which is then paid for with a stolen credit card. The scammer will then demand that a refund of the difference be made in cash or onto a different card. 

How to protect your business: NAB recommends that in-person payments using a terminal are always conducted behind a counter so that potential scammers can’t edit a transaction themselves and that if a refund does need to be made, it should be done using the original card the customer provided. 

Looking for more small business resources? 

Check out the Mozo business banking hub for the latest small business news and a range of helpful guides, as well as comparison tables featuring some of the hottest business loans, business credit cards and business bank accounts around.

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