When we read about national or international fraud trends, the losses to businesses and consumers are usually eye-wateringly large. In the UK, total card fraud soared 19% from 2017-18 to top £671 million last year, for example.
Yet if we peer behind the headline stats, we can actually deduce something very important: individual fraud attempts may actually be worth trivial sums. This is certainly the case with Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud — making it all the more challenging to detect and prevent.
APP fraud is a relatively new trend, but one that’s already starting to worry businesses across the country. It occurs when a fraudster tricks a victim into making a payment to an account under their control. While new APP fraud protections are being rolled out for consumers, there’s little recourse for businesses to retrieve any funds lost like this via B2B channels.
In 2018, APP fraud cost UK firms £126 million. That makes it seem like a big enough problem to be able to spot. But the truth is that scammers often get away with it by focusing on hijacking smaller payments to mid-tier suppliers.
Finance departments are often caught out because they make many infrequent payments to these types of supplier. Because there’s no common payments pattern, it becomes difficult to spot anomalies. Many businesses won’t even know they’ve been defrauded until notified by a supplier that a payment hasn’t reached them. That could take months.
That’s not all. The fraudsters are canny enough to limit the monetary value of their scams so that it’s often not worth the extra expense involved in investigating/remediating. If it costs £300 and key staff resources to resolve a £500 loss, it will probably not be done.
All of which helps scams fly under the radar and allows the fraudsters to thrive while UK firms are feeling the heat with both budget and staff cuts.
How to stop it
The good news is that there are newer digital payments alternatives that can combat the growing threat from APP fraud. Pull payment systems like virtual account numbers (VANs) operate via a different method, so that the supplier initiates payment and not the buyer. That means fraudsters can’t insert themselves in the B2B payments process in the same way.
To find out more, read Optal’s new report: Pushing Back on Payments Fraud