Businesses should remain vigilant against e-commerce scams

FNB advises businesses to consider these checks when dealing with new suppliers online

17 September 2021 - 08:00
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When engaging with e-commerce cybercriminals, the business may reveal its sensitive personal information which can potentially expose it to future risk.
When engaging with e-commerce cybercriminals, the business may reveal its sensitive personal information which can potentially expose it to future risk.
Image: 123RF/Petrovichvadim

As more organisations get accustomed to transacting or conducting business online, there is a proportionate increase in e-commerce scams targeting vulnerable businesses.

These scams often involve a business-to-business (B2B) operator, manufacturer or supplier claiming to provide lucrative goods and services at competitive or massively discounted prices, luring businesses to pay upfront, with no intention to deliver.

Roshan Jelal of FNB Commercial Risk says as much as digitalisation drives efficiencies and streamlines processes, it also presents opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit online retailers, businesses and shoppers who are not vigilant to these threats.

Businesses are urged to invest in preventive measures to protect themselves by ensuring they have conducted the necessary checks before paying for goods and services. Payment should only be made once there is certainty that the business is dealing with a reputable supplier.

When engaging with e-commerce cybercriminals, the business may reveal its bank card details, sensitive personal information and emails, which can potentially expose it to future risk.   

Jelal says businesses should consider these checks when dealing with new suppliers/businesses online: 

  • Always take time to conduct thorough independent verification and research into the supplier/other party. 
  • Popular products and services sold at attractive or significantly cheaper prices should raise alarm bells.
  • Get references/reviews from organisations that have previously conducted business with these suppliers. 
  • Check complaints forums such as Hellopeter or social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, for negative posts relating to the supplier. Test whether the company has a LinkedIn profile which may include information on associated staff members.  
  • Use search engines such as Google Maps or Street View to test the legitimacy of a supplier’s physical address. B2B scammers are often not based at a physical location.
  • Verify supplier phone numbers and emails. It may also be worthwhile checking whether the supplier URL accords with the email address.
  • It’s advisable, especially for one-off payments, to use the verify owner tab on FNB online banking to ensure the supplier name accords with the account number provided. Customers who suspect fraud should contact the bank immediately. 

“Banks have developed and deployed measures to monitor transactions and behavioural models to proactively identify spurious transactions, and will continue to innovate in terms of changing modus operandi. However, these measures and models will be more effective if businesses remain alert and continuously protect and educate themselves, given the constantly evolving fraud landscape,” says Jelal. 

For more information, visit the FNB website.

This article was paid for by FNB.


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