The internet has transformed the way veterinary practices interact with their customers and the outside world. They are able to deliver services faster and more conveniently while also being able to provide more engaging experiences than ever before. However, these technologies have also created loopholes for cybercriminals and hackers looking to commit fraud. Unfortunately, when talking about cybersecurity, online fraud and its impact on veterinary practices are usually neglected, despite it being a major problem that causes damage to these establishments.
What is a fraud threat?
Fraud is the intentional deception of victims with the sole purpose of gaining an unfair advantage or depriving victims of their rights. The concept of fraud has existed for ages, and is commonly associated with brick-and-mortar businesses, where technology is not involved.
However, with the advent of technology in most businesses, organizations, and institutions, cybercriminals have also gone digital. Today, there is a very high likelihood that, as a practice owner, your next fraud incident will be carried out digitally. The fraudsters have also adopted more sophisticated methods. Below are some of the methods that are likely to be used against your veterinary practice:
Business Email compromise
The most common type of fraud that most cybercriminals use is business email compromise. The fraud is mostly targeted at institutions that regularly perform wire transfer payments. To launch an attack, cybercriminals start by carrying out extensive research on their victims using tactics such as phishing and social engineering.
The research also involves the formatting of emails by their victims, how they correspond, and relationships between email correspondents. Once they have all this information, they then execute their attacks by emailing an employee with an authentic looking email requesting for funds transfer. During the attacks, cybercriminals prefer to send the emails when the executive is not in the office to ensure that there will be no verification from them. In most cases, this type of fraud also spoofs the email addresses of their intended victims, making it hard for recipients to detect the fraudulent emails.
Practice Owner Fraud
The practice owner fraud involves cyber criminals impersonating the owner of a veterinary practice and sending emails on their behalf. This type of fraud can also involve other veterinary practice executives, such as human resources and accounting.
The cybercriminals do research on their target victims using tools such as LinkedIn and Facebook. They are also able to obtain information about travel and other details that can help them evade detection. Just like business email compromise, social engineering is used to carry out these types of attacks. However, unlike business email compromise, which mostly targets invoice payments, the practice owner fraud is more expansive and likely to succeed when directed at staff in your veterinary practice.
Another common fraud method used by cybercriminals is enrolling you in an investment plan. In these types of fraud, the financial institution run by the fraudsters is likely to be real. However, they recruit their customers into speculative, high-risk investments without telling them the whole truth. The result is that veterinary practices part away with their money without having the full picture of what they are investing in. After some time, the fraudsters make off with your hard earned money.
To convince practice owners to invest in their projects, the fraudsters use scams such as pyramid and Ponzi schemes. These scams promise sky-high returns quickly. Scammers are then able to dupe their victims and run away with their money.
If your veterinary practice processes transactions online, chances are you also store your clients’ card details. In this type of fraud, cybercriminals attempt to steal details of the card and use them to make unauthorized purchases. When these details are stolen, cybercriminals are able to make a physical card that they can use to make purchases.
As a veterinary practice, you stand to lose money because, once the cardholders notice their credit cards are making unauthorized purchases, they can open a dispute with their card issuer. In most cases, the cases are likely to favor them, and your practice will suffer a loss amounting to the amount spent. You can also be legally sued if it is proven that the card details leaked through your website.
If you are looking for your supplies online, there is a high likelihood of coming across a website that has been set up with the sole purpose of defrauding its clients. Therefore, when a purchase is made through such a site, everything goes well until the time of delivery, when the products or services ordered are not delivered.
Therefore, as a veterinary practice, you have to make sure you have done due diligence when purchasing products and services online. This is to avoid being tricked into making purchases from sites that are run by fraudsters.