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Welsh SMEs Fear Fraud Attacks Becoming More Frequent

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Nearly three quarters of Welsh small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that fraud attacks are becoming more frequent, with over three quarters also claiming fraud is becoming more sophisticated, according to new HSBC UK research.

A study of 2,000 British businesses found that 65% of Welsh companies believed fraud attacks were increasing in regularity, with 79% believing them to be growing in sophistication.

Despite this, only 33% of companies from the country believed fraud is an issue specifically for their business and over a third (39%) have failed to put any fraud prevention measures in place.

HSBC UK Head of Commercial Banking Amanda Murphy said:

“It’s clear that fraud is a mounting issue for more companies in Wales; not only are attacks becoming increasingly regular, they are also growing in sophistication and are very difficult for companies to detect.

“Protecting our customers is an absolute priority for HSBC UK and we’re working hard with our customers to raise awareness of the types of fraud and the latest scams, but it’s vital that businesses of all sizes are vigilant against this threat. Complacency is the fraudster’s friend and we’d urge companies to ensure they are doing all they can to combat scammers. It’s also critical that the victims of fraud report their circumstances to the police to bring these criminals to justice.”

Criminals successfully stole £1.2 billion from UK consumers and businesses through fraud and scams in 2018 according to industry body UK Finance.

Overall, nearly a quarter of Welsh companies surveyed (21%) said they had been a victim of fraud or attempted fraud over the past 12 months. The types of fraud listed including payment diversion, cyber-crime, procurement fraud and phishing.

Of those companies putting measures in place to prevent fraud, 37% carried out risk assessments such as cyber-attack vulnerability, 16% increased training, 20% conducted regular audits and 15% ensured segregation of duties, such as no one individual is responsible for handling cash or managing invoices.

Amanda Murphy added: “There are many different types of fraud that can impact businesses, ranging from vishing, where the fraudster phones the company posing as bank staff or a supplier, through to invoice fraud, where the criminal tricks a company into changing the bank account details for a payment. Customers need to be on their guard, not be pressured into making payments and take time to think about who they are dealing with.

“HSBC UK will never contact customers and ask for details, like PINs and passcodes, and we will never ask customers to send money. We continue to make significant investments in our technology, processes and people to protect our customers and the community from financial crime.”