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Businesses Beware: Avoid Becoming Another Victim
by Chamber News on July 29th, 2014

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), companies with fewer than 100 employees lose approximately $155,000 as a result of fraud each year. In addition, small businesses have a higher fraud rate than larger companies and non-business owners.
Advances in technology and the widespread abilities of the Internet grant people more access to information than ever before. In this age of easily accessible information, criminals can gain access to all the materials needed to create false checks without much difficulty. According to the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance,
 
“A significant amount of check fraud is due to counterfeiting through desktop publishing software, color copiers, and high quality printers. In addition, chemical alteration is used whereby the criminal removes
some or all of the information and manipulates it to their benefit.”

 
A Chamber member, who prefers to remain anonymous, recently experienced check fraud and informed us that the dollar amounts on their company’s checks had been altered and passed on to other small businesses. The victim recommends that businesses practice due diligence by using an independent source to call companies to verify that their checks have been received and that the amounts are correct.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers the following tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
 

Secure your IT infrastructure. Invest in a firewall as well as anti-virus, malware, and spyware detection software.
Use a dedicated computer for banking. Using more than one computer exposes your business to more risk than necessary.
Have a password policy in place. Make sure your employees are familiar with and use approved password practices.
Educate your staff about basic security threats and preventative measures.  Stop fraud before it starts.
Consider doing employee background checks. Keep yourself protected.

According to the Valdosta Police Department, there does not appear to be an organized criminal effort, however, businesses should be aware of this issue and follow appropriate measures to protect their assets. Sergeant Williams, who investigates check fraud, suggests that companies use Positive Pay to safeguard against fraud. Check with your financial institution for more information about Positive Pay and other ways to protect your business.
 
The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber aims to build and educate the business community. To learn more about the types of fraud small businesses face and how to recognize and prevent fraud, please contact Varian Brown at (229)247-8100 ext. 234.



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