Some cheeky individual tried to steal my money this week. I’m not sure how they got my card details, but they did and tried to take a whole 56 pence. Luckily the fraud detection systems at my bank kicked in (thanks HSBC) and they put a stop on my account. No panic, no harm done. I now have a new card and life goes on.
So why, I wonder, do businesses react so differently in the same situation?
I was recently talking to Paul Orfanos, our Sales Director in Australia, about it and he was incensed that the first reaction of so many CFOs on identifying fraud, was to pull their card programmes. It sounds drastic but we know it happens because some of our customers have thought the same way. But if they just take a moment to stop and think, they realise that the fraud was usually only identified because it was on a card and the systems were in place to spot it.
The alternative is to go back to cheques and cash expenses. But these are much more susceptible to fraud than cards and a recent Aberdeen Group report estimates that 46% of all fraud is associated with cheques. Not to mention the process inefficiencies this would bring back into an organisation. These methods lull people into a false sense of security because they don’t allow them to see the fraud that’s going on. The same report estimates that the average fraud loss is $20,333. That’s a lot to ignore.
Fraud can come from within as well as externally. But employees are less likely to commit or get away with fraud if there are stringent controls in place and management have complete visibility of all spend. Any misuse that does occur can be identified quickly and dealt with straight away. We’ve all heard the stories of employees who managed to steal vast sums from their employer over the course of several years. Yes, it’s rare and it makes the headlines, but it shouldn’t be allowed to happen on any scale.
The best approach to dealing with internal and external fraud is actually to do exactly the reverse – Issue more cards, set usage rules and policies and make sure you’ve got a good expense management system to provide complete control and visibility of all spend.
Credit cards, near field communication and mobile payments are the way of the future, and for good reason because they’re quick, easy and transactions are visible. We can’t abandon these technologies because we don’t want to deal with the truth. It’s a sad fact of life that as long as there’s money there will be fraudsters. We need to accept this and tackle it head on by doing what we can to minimise the risk and identify and deal with any misuse.
Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps I should have ditched my bank card entirely and gone back to cash and cheques. Now how would that work for online shopping …