Like any business owner, wedding and event pros must be on high alert regarding fraud and scams. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, U.S. Businesses can lose an average of 5 percent of their gross revenues to fraud, with private companies (including small businesses) suffering a median loss of $164,000.
“Event professionals that manage large-scale events are especially susceptible to fraud, theft, and scams,” explains Shannon Walker, a security expert and president of IntegrityCounts, “There is a lot of money changing hands, and many different areas to organize and keep track of with a small events team. It is very possible for misconduct to slip through the cracks.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your business safe from fraud and scams. Check out these 11 tips that you can implement stat!
1. Verify Vendors & Clients
Whenever a new vendor or client approaches you about working together, do your best to verify their identity before moving forward. For vendors, this means checking up on their business license, website, and online reviews. With clients, you can confirm their identities via their social media pages but also be sure to also meet with them in person or virtually before getting started. And be wary of anyone who insists on only communicating over email or text.
2. Avoid Unsolicited Emails
Be careful when responding to unsolicited emails or phone calls, especially if they are requesting that you send passwords or bank account details.
3. Use a VPN
If you are an event planner who works from home or meets clients in public spaces to go over details, you need a VPN, which will create a private network so intruders can't access your data or laptop via open Wi-Fi. “If you plan to do business outside of your private home or business Wi-Fi networks, VPN is an essential business expense,” says Stanislav Khilobochenko, VP of Customer Services at Clario.
4. Utilize Secure Payment Methods
Remain steadfast when accepting and sending payments. Avoid paying in cash or accepting personal checks, which can be forged or fraudulent. Remember, you need a paper trail in case a payment dispute comes up. With that in mind, only using secure channels like PayPal or Stripe, which have built-in fraud protection and customer dispute resolution policies in place, notes Bruce Kramer, managing partner of Buttercup Venues. Even better: Take advantage of Wedpay, a program that is fully integrated with the Aisle Planner platform and tools to provide you with the highest levels of support, service, and transaction transparency.
5. Don’t Send Money to Unverified Vendors
If your client insists on using a vendor that you’ve never worked with before and haven’t been able to check out, then have them pay that person directly. This way, you’re not putting your own account information in jeopardy.
6. Require Deposits
Ask clients to make a partial deposit upfront so that they commit to paying you for your services. On the flip side, be wary of clients who want to pay more than what you invoice them for—this can be a sign of a scam or fraud. If you receive an overpayment, verify it before refunding the excess amount.
7. Have a Contract in Place
Make sure all parties sign a contract that includes information such as payment dates, services provided, cancellation policies, and any other crucial details that can protect both you and your clients.
8. Monitor Your Accounts
Keep a close eye on your business's financial accounts and transactions. Set up alerts for any unusual activity and regularly review your statements for errors or unauthorized transactions.
9. Stay Educated
Make sure you and your team stay up to date on all of the most popular and most recent scams. You can even hand out brochures from the Federal Trade Commission, which details the most common scams and how to protect your business.
10. Hire a Pro
You don’t need a full-time staff member, but hiring a cybersecurity professional who can take a look at your business, identify where you might be vulnerable, and then put safeguards into place to protect you can be invaluable in the long run.
11. Be Aware of Common Scams
There are so many different scams out there, but there are quite a few that are more commonplace. Some to look out for include:
Small businesses often receive hundreds of emails per day. Don’t click on any unknown links (especially those for a password reset) and verify any payment requests before you hit send. In 2020, there were 241,342 complaints of phishing scams, amounting to more than $54 million in losses.
Fake Invoicing Scams
Invoicing or payment request scams are becoming more frequent, with fake bills for everything from office supplies and cleaning services to website domains.
This is when someone overpays for your services and then asks you to wire the extra money to a third party.
Tech Support Scams
Beware of a phone call or pop-up message on your screen informing you there is a problem with your computer security. These scammers want to get your money and gain access to your computer.
Business Lending Scams
Any “lender” offering amazing rates and looking for an upfront fee should be avoided.