Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

Fail to prepare and you’re preparing to fail. It’s a mantra that most businesses would do well to live by and it’s particularly apt when it comes to fraud. If you think you’re completely safe from fraud then that’s a fairly good sign that you’re not. Complacency and ignorance could cost you dearly and need to be guarded against.

Yet, regardless of this many businesses still think fraud won’t happen to them and refuse to take adequate steps to protect their money.

Why is it important to think about fraud?

Fraud will damage any business’ image and reputation – on top of the financial ruin it could cause – which is why managing the risk makes good sense. As with any risk in front of your business, the important thing is to recognise it’s there and consider how to mitigate against it.

Understanding the risks

Pinpointing potential weak points is actually a simpler process than you might fear. The risk comes for any money you’re holding, processing or transferring – as well as in private data that could have a financial value in the wrong hands, such as the private details of your customers. Once you appreciate this, it’s important to consider the processes and people involved in collecting, handling and storing the data and money you hold and draw up a plan to document all of this.

Educate your employees

As your first line of defence, you and your employees need to be educated with the above risks, safe practices and good responses to suspected financial fraud. Once your employees can prevent and detect fraud, your business is in a much healthier position and it’s important to stress that everyone has a role in ensuring collective safety.

To have a successful business you need to be fraud aware. Emails, text messages, phone calls and information requests may look and sound official but simple training can help you to recognise fraudulent tactics. Be on guard and if you feel suspicious investigate the situation.

Online protection

It is important that the techniques used to protect your digital assets become as second nature as the locks and alarms you use to protect your physical buildings.

You should never use an unprotected internet connection and should keep your computers and laptops updated with virus protection. Also, make sure you are using a complex password that you change periodically or technology such as biometrics that is hard to hack. Basic protection such as this ensures you’re not leaving your digital front door open to the outside world.

Pay attention to any suspicious activity and be sure to react quickly

You need to be paying attention to your accounts and act upon any transactions that you don’t recognise. If you can check your finances quickly and know which payments you can expect to be making and receiving then you’ll be prepared to spot things that ‘don’t look right’.

So, is your business safe? If the above raises an alarm bell or too – your staff aren’t trained, you haven’t identified risks, you don’t have basic security software – then the answer is no and the time to act is now.