Wednesday 2 December 2020 6:00 am

Barclays issues scam warning to SMEs ahead of Brexit

A surge in business scams this year has triggered Barclays to issue a scam warning ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period. 

The high street bank has today issued a warning to UK SMEs to remain vigilant as the transition period ends, as thousands of businesses fall victim to sophisticated scam tactics. 

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New data reveals a 20 per cent increase in business scams in the past five months, with impersonation scams increasing by more than half as fraudsters capitalise on remote working. 

Impersonation scams involve criminals pretending to be genuine organisations or authorities to gain personal or banking information. 

The second most common type of scams were purchase scams in which fraudsters trick businesses into purchasing non-existent products through a website, such as PPE or office supplies. 

“Many businesses across the UK are busy preparing ahead of the Brexit transition deadline. However, they need to be on their guard as fraudsters will often ramp up their efforts during uncertain periods,” said Barclays head of fraud Jim Winters. “Business owners, perhaps not used to the new rules following our departure from the EU, may find it more difficult to differentiate between genuine and fake claims.” 

The government has launched their own campaign to help businesses ready for Brexit just weeks ahead of the deadline. The launch of the business taskforce last month came after the National Audit Office warned of “significant disruption” at the border whether or not the government could agree to a trade deal with the EU. 

Barclays has warned businesses to be wary of unexpected calls and ensure they familiarise themselves with new suppliers if switching ahead of the end of the transition period. 

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There has been a stark rise in business fraud this year amid the pandemic with some government lending schemes being particularly vulnerable to fraud. 

Figures form the British Business Bank show that 26,993 loans had been rejected by banks as fraudulent since its launch in May.