Another year has flown by at an unbelievable pace, and once again the holiday season has begun rampaging through shopping malls, saturating tourist destinations, ringing the tills for retailers, and bleeding the wallets and bank accounts of consumers caught up in the end of year hedonism, myself included (thank you, Black Friday!). I know we’re all ready to call an end to proceedings for a short while, and to bask in the holiday spirit with friends and family, giving in to some good old overindulgence in the merry things, and a measure of mild avoidance of the responsible things. But are you, and by extension your company, prepared for the inevitable challenges that tend to raise their heads once we begin to succumb to year end battery failure?
Unfortunately criminals don’t always keep the same holiday timetables you and I do. In fact, many crimes such as robberies and murder, shoplifting and stock theft, remote jamming and hijacking escalate over the festive season. White collar crimes like fraud can surge quite significantly thanks to the financial pressure of end of year spending enticing dishonest employees to supplement their income illicitly.
Whether your business trades through the festive season or not, do you have the necessary controls in place to protect against fraudulent and other criminal activities? All the old tricks tend to pop up at this time. Business identity theft is particularly rampant, for instance accounts opened under false company names, falsified supplier bank accounts, unverified customer delivery address changes, forged documentation, etc. Physical threats such as armed robberies, break-ins, and vehicle and property theft are also on the rise and need to be thoroughly analysed and understood, and preparation made to not just prevent, but also to react to and recover from any potential incidents that might occur. Is your company data fortified against cyber-attacks like hacking, phishing, viruses and malware? It is essential that your organisation’s controls are closely aligned with all threats, and cognisance is taken of the influence of the festive season on the effectiveness and adequacy of these controls.
The reality is that around this time, when companies are short staffed, and staff aren’t properly monitored or supervised, procedures are often circumvented or ignored entirely, and this control slump is manna from heaven for somebody looking to take advantage of the system. Don’t be a victim of crime based on ignorance or lack of effort. Take the time to ensure that your organisation, as well as you, your family, friends and colleagues are well prepared for any eventuality.
Enjoy the festive season and may you all be blessed.
Paul van der Struys