As with many other sectors, the threat of fraud is ever-present for those working in childcare. When businesses are busy or trying to “wind down” before a holiday or break, fraudsters will often use this opportunity to strike as they know staff might be slightly more distracted and therefore less vigilant than they’d usually be.
Here are 3 scams you should be aware of to make sure your nursery doesn’t fall victim to a fraudster.
1. Scam phone calls
Fraudsters may call you pretending to be your bank or someone of authority, like the police. Their aim is to try to obtain passwords and confidential banking information from you on the phone. They might try to convince you that you need to move your money to a “safe” account by saying there has been a breach in security. Then, they’ll ask you to call your bank on an official number. However they’ll stay on the line whilst you do this, and convince you that you’re then speaking to your bank before stealing your personal information.
If you receive a call like this, you can take precautions by doing the following:
- Call back your bank using a different phone.
- Call a friend or colleague before you call the bank, to ensure the phone line is clear.
- Remember your bank will never call you to ask for your password or personal details over the phone, nor will they ever ask you to transfer your money to a “safe” account.
Malicious software (known as malware) is often hidden in email attachments and free downloads. It can interrupt your internet banking and present you with a fake screen prompting you to enter personal details, which can then be stolen from you. You can help to protect yourself against malware by buying up-to-date anti-virus & anti-spy software for all your PCs. This software will perform checks and alert you to any potential risks.
- When banking online, check the site you’ve visited is secure. You can check this by seeing whether there is an ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS in the browser window – this stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website you’re visiting are hidden from those who might be trying to view the details illegally.
- Don’t open downloads or click on email attachments unless they’re from sources you know and trust.
- If you’re asked to enter passwords or verification codes at an unusual stage when banking online, log out and call your bank immediately.
Phishing is an email scam whereby fraudsters pretend to be a company that you already know and trust. The email they send to you may look genuine, mirroring the look of emails you’ve received from that business in the past. The email will usually contain a link to a fake website and will ask you to act urgently in order to prevent something happening, such as your account being closed. The email might also say you’ve won a prize or cash which you can claim by clicking on the link.
- Check the sender’s email address. Normally, if it’s fake, it won’t tally with the company’s website address.
- Watch out for emails with spelling or grammar errors.
- Check the greeting – it might be non-specific such as “Dear valued customer.”
- Call the company on an official number (not the one listed in the email) to check it’s legitimate, if you’re in doubt.
Businesses are seen as attractive targets for fraudsters, and these types of scams happen more often than you’d think – in fact more than 5 million Brits fell victim to fraud last year alone. What’s even more surprising is that, according to The Local Government Association, the true number of victims is likely much higher, as only 5% of scams are typically reported!
Make sure you stay vigilant and always be suspicious of people who contact your nursery out of the blue.
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