By Cathy Hansen
Financial fraud is a concern that often hovers in the background and only takes center stage once an account or personal information has been compromised. Remaining vigilant is critical to staving off threats, but it is virtually impossible for individuals to stay in a state of heightened alertness indefinitely. While numerous steps can be implemented to aid in personal fraud protection, financial partners can – and should – take additional measures to mitigate risks to their clients.
At Washington Trust Bank, fraud prevention is a collaborative effort. While it’s important to provide clients with information, tools and resources that help them protect themselves, it’s also critical for bankers to leverage their knowledge, experience and systems to create a more formidable firewall.
Build Strong Banking Relationships
For individuals and businesses, cultivating a strong relationship with their Washington Trust banker can provide a host of benefits. Bankers who know their clients can certainly suggest financial products or services that could be a good fit. More importantly, representatives who learn about their clients’ banking behaviors can quickly establish a sense of what constitutes normal activity. As a result, any atypical or aberrant behavior raises red flags and prompts immediate follow up to ensure that any uncharacteristic transactions are indeed aboveboard.
Washington Trust bankers are educated in tackling financial fraud on multiple fronts. Representatives are available to conduct workspace assessments to help identify potential security weaknesses or gaps. In addition, protocols may be put in place to provide clear parameters around transactions, such as ACH and wire transfers. For instance, bankers may work with clients to establish limits on how much may be transferred within any given time period.
Conduct Regular Risk Assessment
Given the nature of financial services, industry professionals are exposed to a wide range of business models and practices. For Washington Trust bankers, this experience and knowledge provides a head start in assessing risk, as they possess familiarity with areas that have potential to be exploited by those intent on perpetrating fraud. Representatives can recommend measures to close loopholes and suggest best practices to further mitigate risk.
Risk assessment should be conducted at the outset of any banking relationship, whether for an individual, business or combination of the two. Washington Trust recommends making risk assessment a regular undertaking, such as once or twice a year, to help ensure a client is protected as well as possible against any new threats. Furthermore, individual or business circumstances will likely warrant changes in banking products or services over time, and it’s important to ensure protection measures evolve with client accounts.
Focus on Prevention
Having an attentive banker overseeing a client relationship is a valuable asset, but so are automated tools that make fraud prevention second nature. Washington Trust bankers recommend taking advantage of the various tools that keep clients in control and informed. For instance, email and text alerts can be established to notify account holders of balance changes, entitlement changes or exceptions to established parameters. Also, an additional layer of security is available for Internet banking with token access codes that are dynamic and used in conjunction with a user name and password.
Businesses, in particular, may want to make use of Washington Trust’s payment services for fraud detection. Check payments are often targeted in fraudulent schemes, and Washington Trust offers several methods of defense, including Positive Pay, Payee Positive Pay and Reverse Positive Pay. Through such resources, clients can review questionable checks and return unauthorized items to avoid losses. ACH Positive Pay detects potential fraudulent activity for incoming ACH debits, or transaction initiated outside of Washington Trust, that don’t meet a client’s preauthorized criteria.
Collaborate with Banking Representatives
Fraudulent activity can result in significant losses for businesses and individuals. Taking proactive steps to protect accounts and working closely with a trusted financial partner can help banking customers reduce their risk, monitor their accounts and take swift action to contain any damage. With Washington Trust, the tools and resources are already in place and ready to deploy.
Washington Trust Bank