Understanding the risk

You might think that something like fraud will never impact your business. But did you know an estimated 7 out of 10 organizations were victims of business fraud in 2021? With check fraud proving to be the most prevalent form, it’s clear that no matter the size of your business, fraud can have a devastating effect on your bottom line.

If you’re still not concerned about the threat of fraud, consider some of these figures reported by the Association for Financial Professionals in 2022:

fraud statistics

Assurance and control over fraud

The good news is that there are plenty of simple and effective steps you and your employees can take to protect your business from becoming a victim of fraud.

  1. Your first line of defense is strengthening your internal controls. Often times, this involves working with a trusted CPA to conduct a thorough audit and provide your business with recommendations. These might include:
    1. Conducting extensive employee background checks, including credit checks for employees that manage company assets.
    2. Implementing dual controls for high-risk, self-administration services.
    3. Safeguarding sensitive information such as accounting documents, bank statements, check stock, and personal documents by securing all items in locked drawers.
    4. Minimizing the number of computer workstations and laptops used for online banking and payments and restrict their functionality.
    5. Installing and maintaining real-time anti-virus firewall and malware prevention software for all computer workstations and laptops used for online banking transactions.
    6. Educating and training your staff about basic fraud prevention techniques.
    7. Purchasing an insurance policy to help protect your business against losses from fraud.
  2. Consider reducing the number of checks mailed by your business and moving to electronic ACH payments. In early 2023, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an alert in light of a nationwide mail theft-related check fraud. Since 2020 the number suspicious activity reports submitted to FinCEN has only continued to increase, from 350,000 reports of potential check fraud to over 680,000 reports in 2022. If mailing checks is a business process you cannot change at this time, some safe options are to:
    1. Utilize window-less, secure envelopes.
    2. Drop off mail with checks enclosed inside your post office instead of a drop box or unsecured mailbox
    3. Avoid grouping your mail together with a rubber band.
  3. We cannot stress enough the importance of monitoring and reconciling account activity daily. Digital banking solutions have become even more critical to your business’s day-to-day financial management. These solutions provide, not only the freedom to access your business's accounts wherever and whenever you want, but also quickly identify suspicious transactions. The earlier the detection and the sooner you act, the more likely damage and loss can be averted.
    1. Be on the lookout for small irregularities.
    2. Report suspicious activity as soon as it’s identified. We want to help you, not only recover funds as quickly as possible, but also place protections on the account to prevent any additional fraudulent activity.
    3. Set limits and alerts to receive notifications on account actions or transactions amounts over a certain dollar amount.

With Westfield Bank’s Secure, your business doesn’t have to be vulnerable.

5 million in fraud losses prevented by Westfield Bank

Westfield Bank offers you a suite of simple and effective tools to invest in that help you monitor your account, 24/7 and significantly decrease the threat of check fraud. We prevented nearly $5 million in potential fraud loss to our commercial customers in 2022 alone. When you partner with us, these are the resources we’ll provide to give you greater peace-of-mind:

Positive Pay is a highly effective security measure designed to protect your business from check fraud. This tool enables you to upload a daily electronic file with information about checks issued by your business. This information is instantly compared to checks presented for payment against your account. Any fraudulent or unauthorized payments for both checks and ACH will be flagged before being cleared.

Furthermore, Westfield Bank’s Payee Match technology offers an additional layer of security to Positive Pay. On top of the check fraud mitigation, this technology enhances the security of your transactions by comparing the check number, the check amount, AND the payee against the list of payees issued by your business.

Another feature is Reverse Positive Pay, which reviews all prior day checks that were presented for payment by your business. To stay ahead of any fraudulent activity, such as altered or fraudulent checks, our team will provide your business the check detail information, dollar amount, and digital check image each business day. This allows you to easily and frequently monitor your account for any suspicious check activity.

Account reconciliation is another tool offered by Westfield Bank that can make a big difference for your business. This service detects any errors, discrepancies, or fraud by comparing your business’s financial records against statements from your bank accounts, ensuring they match.

Multi-factor authentication is an additional, easy-to-implement tool we provide that can further bolster the security of your business. This tool, which you’re probably familiar with from other personal accounts, protects your banking information by requiring additional verification to log in to your online or mobile banking account. When you log into your account, you’ll be prompted with a text or call directly to your phone and provided with a unique security code for your session.

Are you ready to safeguard your business with Secure?

Amid the rising threat of fraud, our Treasury Management team is here to bring you greater peace-of-mind. Get in touch with our fraud experts today to talk through the best practices and tools that are right for your business.

Jennifer Harding
Jennifer Harding
Treasury Management Sales Specialist Agency / Wooster / Mansfield
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Rachel Holzheimer
Rachel Holzheimer
VP, Treasury Management Business Dev. Officer
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Jarrod Long
Jarrod Long
SVP, Treasury Management Leader Brecksville / Canton / Medina / Wooster
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Jason Niec
Jason Niec
Commercial Banking Development Officer
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Lisa Nordick
Lisa Nordick
VP, Treasury Management Business Dev. Officer
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