News article

Businesses urged to stay vigilant about scams

22 October 2019


Be wise about scam and take steps to protect yourself from mandate fraud

The ScamwiseNI Partnership is warning businesses about the dangers of mandate fraud. A number of such frauds have been committed in recent weeks, causing significant losses to local businesses.

What is a mandate fraud?
Mandate fraud happens when you or your employee are tricked into changing a regular payment mandate (such as a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer) and you unknowingly redirect payments to a fraudulent account.

How does mandate fraud happen?
For mandate fraud to happen, you will typically receive a request to update bank account records. For example:

  • you may be contacted by someone claiming to be an existing supplier and told to amend the direct debit, standing order or bank transfer instructions to their new bank account
  • you may receive an email, letter or phone call from a membership or a subscription organisation, informing you of revised payment details to a new bank account
  • you may also receive an email seemingly from an employee, advising the HR department of new bank account details for wages to be paid into

Often, the email will say something like “We have recently changed our bank, so please send payment to the following account…”.

If you proceed with changing the payment mandate, the money will then transfer to the fraudsters rather than the legitimate recipient. In each of these scenarios, it can be some time before the scam comes to light.

How to protect your business
To protect your business from mandate fraud, you can:

  • verify requests for amended payments by phone or using established contact details
  • scrutinise email addresses when you receive an email, especially when it concerns money, to make sure you are corresponding with the same person every time
  • pay attention to subtle differences in correspondence or email addresses
  • use strong, separate passwords for your email accounts
  • use 2-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection – this means you'll be notified if someone is trying to access your account through a different device

You can also follow ScamwiseNI on Facebook for regular updates on the types of scams being used, and for advice on protecting yourself and your business.

Find out more about how to protect your business from scam.