Businesses Against Scams initiative launched

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A FREE online training tool is being backed by Tameside Council to help protect businesses, employees and customers from costly scams.

The Businesses Against Scams initiative has been launched by National Trading Standards to combat a raft of scams that are undermining businesses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They include malicious email attachments, false government grant phone calls and CEO impersonations.

With remote working and many businesses having to stop or diversify their trading practices, criminals are seizing the opportunity to target employees who are isolated from colleagues. Scams include criminals impersonating government officials or a senior member of the business in order to put pressure on employees to give out sensitive information or make payments.

Criminals will also try and gain access to devices and networks, and everything stored on them. They can do this by: 

  • Sending emails with malicious attachments;
  • Exploiting vulnerabilities in your operating systems if they are not up-to-date; 
  • Trying to get you to click links or visit malicious websites. 

Once they have access to your device and your data, they may try to steal your data or extract money from you by getting you to pay a ransom. 

At a time when businesses are already facing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the proliferation of related scams are adding further strain.

Scams targeting customers also undermine businesses, as criminals often impersonate businesses to defraud their customer base, causing reputational damage and potential loss of revenue. The emotional and mental impact on employees and business owners who have fallen victim to a scam can also be devastating and long-lasting. 

The increased risk for businesses has led National Trading Standards to encourage more companies to join Businesses Against Scams. The initiative provides free tools for businesses to help upskill and train their workforce, through free online training modules that will help staff identify and prevent potential scams. Businesses can take the training and sign up at https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/BAS

Tameside Council is also advising business owners against hiring third party firms to complete and submit grant applications, in return for a percentage of the grant. Applications from third parties are not accepted.

Cllr Allison Gwynne, Tameside Council Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Community Safety and Environment, said: "We want to make sure businesses in our borough are aware of how scammers are operating at the moment so they can be prepared. The Businesses Against Scams initiative provides a vital line of defence for a business, its staff and customers by sharing essential information on how to identify and prevent a scam."

If a business believes they have been the victim of a scam they must contact their bank immediately and report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

Businesses Against Scams is a new element of the successful Friends Against Scams initiative, run by National Trading Standards to provide free online training to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams: www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/.