BMO Bank of Montreal
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BMO Bank of Montreal

March 10, 2011 10:17 ET

BMO Survey: Are Small Businesses Protected Against Fraud?

- 80 per cent of Canadian small business owners say that they have enough resources in place to protect against fraud

- However, only 42 per cent strongly agree, and 17 per cent do not think they are protected

- Fraud is a direct threat to the financial well-being of a business, costing millions of dollars each year

- BMO Bank of Montreal offers 7 tips to strengthen defences against fraudsters

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) - A survey from BMO Bank of Montreal shows the majority of Canadian small business owners are confident they have resources in place to protect against fraud, but nearly one-in-five are not. These latest findings were released in recognition of March, official Fraud Prevention Month, and as an opportunity to advise Canadian business owners on actions they can take year round to ensure they are protected.

"Fraud is a direct threat to the success of our business customers," said Gail Cocker, Senior Vice-President, Commercial Banking, BMO Bank of Montreal. "At BMO, we want to help business owners stay informed about what precautions they can take. In today's world, business owners must understand and manage multiple risks. Fraud is an operational risk that must be managed proactively," added Ms. Cocker.

According to the Government of Canada's Anti-Fraud Centre – last year over 16,000 people were identified as victims of fraud, accounting for an estimated $54 million in losses. Internet scams, virtually unheard of a decade ago, now cost millions in fraud costs each year. The Government of Canada estimates these types of incidents of fraud have risen 77 per cent since 2005.

BMO offers 7 tips for business owners to keep in mind:

  1. Talk to Your Merchant Services Provider: Find out how your business is being protected from fraud loss resulting from lost or stolen credit or debit card numbers, and what your exposure is. How quickly do you need to act in order to recover losses? Your merchant services provider has the answers.
  2. Prevent Hacking: Talk to your financial institution about how to protect your online accounts from hackers and phishing scams. This includes understanding what your institution will and won't ask for by email or online, such as password and account information.
  3. Limit Access to Account Data: Ensure you have rigorous internal processes set up to manage functions like payroll accounts and bank transfers. All it takes is your account number and bank transit information (from the bottom of any cheque) to initiate fraudulent bank transfers from unauthorized sources.
  4. Record Storage & Disposal: Your sensitive data should never just be thrown out with the trash – that's the number one way that fraudsters can gain access to restricted information and customer data.
  5. Don't Use Free Email Services to Conduct Business: Web based email is great for your personal life, but it shouldn't be your primary channel for conducting business and exchanging sensitive data and customer information.
  6. Follow Up with Suppliers: If you are making payments to your suppliers in the mail, get in touch with them to ensure receipt.
  7. Check Your Bank Accounts: Regularly log-on to review your bank account and monitor for any discrepancies. Talk to you banker about any suspect charges.

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