(TORONTO, ON) – Alberta’s economy is booming but legitimate business owners are not the only ones making a profit. Fraudsters are targeting small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs) in the province and making a healthy profit.
A recent study by ATB Financial found that 1 in 4 SMEs was affected by fraud in Alberta in 2014. The frauds varied in method but the costs were high and the chances of being hit were high:
- $24,000: The average cost of each fraud
- 49%: The rate of retail businesses hit by fraud
- 26%: The rate of energy and construction businesses victimized by fraud
Jeff Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, says fraud is a serious threat to a business’ success:
“Criminals are constantly finding new ways to scam small and mid-sized businesses that don’t have the same sophisticated security of larger companies,” says Schwartz. “In today’s economy, fraud can have a serious impact on a business’s bottom line and could affect their long-term viability.”
Those perpetrating the crimes have a variety of methods at their disposable and the study found that the fraud artists and thieves focused on three main areas:
- 29% of fraud was related to credit and debit cards
- 27% used phishing and email schemes
- 27% involved the theft of equipment, inventory and other property
Consolidated Credit, in the hopes of helping Albertan businesses to protect themselves, offers the following tips:
- Passwords: Passwords are like a secret handshake – the more complicated they are, the harder it will be to copy them. Ensure that everything is password protected and that staff change their passwords on a regular basis. We recommend changing passwords at least every three months, if not more frequently.
- Protect your computer – Your computer needs to become your fortress. Investing money in effective anti-virus, malware and security software will pay huge dividends if it prevents you from being the victim of a cyber attack. Norton and McAfee are two of the leaders in the field.
- Employee training – Ensure that you educate your staff on how they can help prevent crimes before they happen. Things you should teach them include not opening any suspicious emails from unknown sources and keeping strict records of inventory.
“Shoring up your defenses will cause criminals to search for easier targets,” says Schwartz. “Fraud and theft is not going to disappear, but you can take steps to prevent your business from being a victim.”
About Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc.:
Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada is a national non-profit credit counselling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance.
For more information or to request an interview with Jeffrey Schwartz, please contact:
Eric Spence, Public Relations Coordinator, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada, Inc., T: 416-915-7283 ext.1041, C: 416-731-5588, F: 416-915-5200, E: [email protected]