Change of bank account scams

Criminals are always on the lookout for fresh new ways to make easy money. However, the majority of fraud is just old ideas that catch new people. Businesses must be aware of business-to-business Identity Theft scams that involve the fraudulent diverting of payments into accounts not belonging to suppliers.

Perpetrators of this scam usually assume the identity of a supplier. The fraudsters may call the targeted business to introduce themselves as the new account manager at a supplier that holds a contract with the business. An email or a letter using fraudulent letterheads is sent to inform the targeted business of changes in banking account details. The perpetrators will request all future payments be paid into the new account. The new bank details belong to an account under the control of the fraudsters.

This is an old scam, but the perpetrator’s attention to detail makes these communications seem authentic, which can turn unsuspecting businesses into easy targets. These perpetrators ensure that correspondence from the targeted business to verify the notification is diverted to a member of their group who will confirm the instruction to be legitimate. Businesses should take their time to verify the notifications for change in banking details from their suppliers even when under pressure to do so at the end of the month, unless of course the legitimacy of the notice is certain. Businesses should always ensure that they are satisfied with the validity of supplier communications.

Having rapport with individuals in the supplier’s office is the easiest way to confirm these types of requests telephonically with a trusted source. Where feasible, businesses should train staff in proper supplier relationship management procedures and how to be alert to slight tweaks in e-mail addresses and other details of communications.

Tips to Avoid Becoming a victim of Change of Banking Account Details Scams:

  • Verify all notices of changes in bank account details.
  • Beware of false confirmation e-mails from almost identical e-mail addresses, such as .com instead of co.za, or slight variations from genuine addresses that can be easily missed.
  • It is essential that identity of the person your business is dealing with is confirmed at all times.
  • Ensure you always shred and never throw away your business (and suppliers) invoices or any communication material that contains letterheads.
  • Verify any request for or changes to information with the supplier over the telephone, ideally with someone you know and have known for some time.
  • Use your database contact details to confirm notifications for any changes of banking details via official correspondence with your suppliers (such as a letter), preferably before processing the next payment.
  • Do not publish your bank account details on the internet. This private information can be used fraudulently to trick genuine customers into making payments to alternative accounts.
  • Ensure that your company’s private information is not disclosed to third parties who are not entitled to receive it, or third parties whose identities cannot be suitably verified.

These simple precautions can ensure that your business does not fall victim to bank account detail scams.

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