Regional business owners urged to stay alert to scam red flags this holiday season

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With many businesses in regional Australia facing into peak trading season, NAB’s Executive for Regional and Agribusiness Khan Horne has some timely tips for business owners to stay vigilant for business scams.

As we head into the holiday season, businesses across regional Australia will be preparing for the busy summer trading period as Aussies escape the cities and head to the regions this summer.

The surge in transactions during this period creates an environment ripe for scammers as business owners are busy managing the business, coordinating staff, and serving customers. It’s a good reminder to stay alert to scams and their red flags.

Transactions boom across regional Australia

NAB merchant terminal data from 2022* shows the summer break brings with it a boom in the number of transactions made at regional businesses across the country.

Some of the top performing categories include:

  • Tourist attractions up 85%
  • Boat rentals, up 49%
  • Caravan parks and camping grounds, up 45%
  • Clothing stores, up 42%
  • Candy shops up 30%

Time pressure on business owners

NAB research tells us almost one in four business owners say time management is their biggest challenge in running their business, this is often reflected in my conversations with NAB clients.

When I’m out chatting with customers across Australia, time – particularly lack of time – is often raised as a key source of pressure. These transaction insights paint a good picture of the time pressures that are further exacerbated during the busy summer period.

It’s often this lack of time that scammers prey on making business owners particularly vulnerable.

Anyone can fall victim to a scam

Scams can happen to anyone. Scammers are clever and continually come up with new ways to deceive people – often exploiting trust, urgency, or lack of information to trick their victims.

That’s why education is key. Recent NAB research tells us only 15% of SMEs said they conduct extensive training around scams and other cybersecurity risks. This comes as recent Scamwatch data shows small and micro businesses lost $13.7 million to scams in 2022, a 95% increase compared to the previous year.

NAB welcomes ABA Scam-Safe Accord and Government’s cyber Action Plan

Although there’s no silver bullet to scam prevention, I welcome the release of the Australian Banking Association’s (ABA) Scams-Safe Accord as part of ongoing efforts to tackle the scam epidemic targeting Australians. We’re in the middle of a global scam epidemic and we need to make it as hard as possible for these criminals to be successful.

NAB Executive Regional and Agribusiness Khan Horne

As an ABA member, we’ve played an active role in the development of the Scam-Safe Accord and believe it will provide a framework for the banking industry to help protect Australian consumers and small businesses from this global crime wave.

This announcement comes off the back of the Government’s Action Plan to invest over half a billion dollars in Australia’s cyber defences. This is critical to addressing the growing pressures posed by cyber attacks. The policies focused on support for small business is in particular, a welcome step. The small business sector is huge driver of economic growth but they continue to face alarming rates of cyber crime, losing up to $100,000 for every cyber attack they report. The Government is right to tackle cyber security threats by placing small businesses at the centre of its efforts.

How NAB is helping to keep you safe from scammers

We have a comprehensive, bank-wide strategy in place, with 33 initiatives recently completed to help reduce the impact of scams. One being the removal of all links from unexpected text messages from NAB.

We’re also monitoring customer accounts 24/7 for signs of suspicious activity, as well as working with telcos to significantly reducing spoofing scams that are targeting our customers. Our business bankers are also trained to have conversations with their customers about scams.

Remember, if you think you’ve been scammed, contact your bank or banker immediately using the number on the back of your bank card or website. And check out our Business Security Hub for practical tips and helpful webinars on how to identify and see through scams.

* Transaction data comparison period 24 December 2022–14 January 2023 vs 22 October–12 November 2022.   

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