Fraud is a huge factor in the failure of SME’s and the truth is, no matter how protected you are, fraud can still affect you, however there are some things that you can do to avoid being a victim of fraud.

Gaining new customers is great, especially if they are placing large orders straight away, however you should treat these types of situations with suspicion. Any newly-formed company or business can be assessed using a credit reporting service, this may make you aware of any irregularities in the company’s payment history.

A lot of fraudsters attempt to distract you with business names that sound established. Companies with words like International, Worldwide, Euro, Trading and Distribution are typically used by fraudulent companies so it is best to treat them with caution initially.

If you deal with a client or supplier who have been long established. Look out for a rapid change in leadership or authoritative figures like Financial directors, quick changes like these may indicate that fraudsters have hijacked the company to obtain credit.

Find out the length of time that the company has occupied the premises that they are in. Ask local businesses in the area and speak to neighbours of the company. Use services such as Google maps to check that the business exists. A company that has moved in overnight should be treated suspiciously.

Ask for trade references, don’t just use the number that they have provided, do some research and use the official number for the reference. Ask unusual questions and if they are part of the fraud then they will not be expecting that. For example, ask them if they have worked with the company whilst they were using a different name? or Have they worked with the company at a different address?

One of the easiest things to check is the company’s website, look out for spelling mistakes and if the company’s site looks quite simple or basic and does not relate to the business then this should arouse suspicion. Businesses commonly use company email addresses. This not only looks professional but makes it easy for clients to communicate with them. Addresses that are linked to accounts like Yahoo, Hotmail or Outlook are unlikely to be legitimate and this should be a major warning sign that something is not right.

If you have any concerns about a company that has contacted you, Commercial Domestic Investigations can help. We offer an in-depth credit reporting service that provides you with the confidence that the company is who they say they are. Here at Commercial Domestic Investigations we recognise how important it is for you and your business to be able to provide credit to customers with the confidence that they will adhere to the payment terms. We assist businesses of all sizes to understand the payment histories of their clients and to ensure that you can maintain a positive cash flow. Contact us on 08444 159200 or email sales@commercialdomesticinvestigations.co.uk.