ORGANISATIONS are being warned to be on guard for a potential fraud where criminals pose as a supplier or creditor and get companies to update their bank details.

West Yorkshire Police say fraudsters have been targeting businesses and other organisations nationwide by pretending to be a supplier or creditor and telling the business they have changed their bank details.

The criminals then tell the organisation to update those banking details so when the business pays money it goes to the fraudsters and not the legitimate company.

Kay Bainbridge, Victim Care and Crime Prevention Officer (Fraud), said: “It is quite easy for fraudsters to get hold of the mastheads/logos of legitimate companies and to then pretend to be that company.

“They may also get legitimate testimonials from the internet and the correct names of company directors or other senior people within the organisation.

“They will then contact a business or other organisation pretending to be a real company, asking them to change the banking details they have for them and then for money for services owed.

“I would ask organisations to stop and think for a second if they get such a request. If it is an organisation you do business with then take steps to verify the legitimacy of the request.

“That might be as simple as calling the legitimate company to see if the correspondence is legitimate or not. It only takes a couple of minutes.

“The request will usually come in the form of a payment request – usually urgent – which often comes in via email.

“Fraudsters will also use the telephone to try and get their message across. I would urge organisations to be particularly vigilant over Christmas – staff numbers tend to be reduced over the festive period with some staff also possibly covering unfamiliar roles.”

Another fraud is where a payment request is sent seemingly from within the organisation.

Fraudsters will pose as a senior person within the organisation asking (usually via email) for an urgent payment to be made to a company.

But the police say it is important not to take things at face value – look out for email addresses changing when you hover over it or when you look at its properties.

Also check the email address to see if any characters have been added or removed.

Other advice includes:

  • Contacting the sender independently to verify the request and use contact information that you know and trust.
  • Do not rely on any contact details within the request as the fraudster may have altered these too.
  • Have a documented process for requesting, processing/keying and authorising payments.
  • Keep your computer secure and ensure that your browser, operating system, firewall and anti-virus/malware software are all up-to-date and that you run regular scans of the system.