Barclays launches major drive to help Scottish SMEs tackle cybercrime | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Barclays launches major drive to help Scottish SMEs tackle cybercrime

Research conducted by Barclays, as part of their nationwide campaign to help small businesses tackle cybercrime and fraud, has found Scotland’s SMEs are the least targeted for fraud compared to anywhere else in the UK. The findings revealed that 31% of SMEs surveyed had been targeted, compared to the national average of 44%.   

Of those targeted, one in five (20%) fell victim, close to the national average of 23% and surprisingly, 75% said they spent nothing on fraud prevention methods for their staff in the past year – the highest region in Britain. 

The new research suggests that online fraud has resulted in the loss of more than 50,000 British jobs to date as SMEs had to make redundancies to recover costs.[I]

The average cost of a fraud to a UK business was almost £35,000[ii]. If these figures were applied to the nation’s more than five million SMEs, the total cost would equate to £40bn to date.

In two thirds of cases, the businesses had to cover these costs themselves[iii] – money that could otherwise have been invested in jobs, training or new equipment.  

Barclays has seen a rise in sophisticated fraud with criminals targeting SMEs. This includes using “social engineering,” with emails or phone calls impersonating people such as suppliers, staff members or even the CEO, tricking victims into giving out information or making payments. 

The research also reveals that only half of small business victims (54 per cent) reported the crime to the police, and over a quarter (28 per cent) do not even tell staff when a breach has happened. 

Barclays has stepped up its mission to educate customers, including SMEs, about the growing risks of fraud and cybercrime, investing over £18 million during the past 24 months on its national Digisafe campaign, which has already engaged five million people. The bank has also prevented over £857 million of potential fraud and scams (more than £35 per customer) in the last year. 

In 2017, Barclays also hosted webinars attended by almost 7,000 SMEs to help keep them safe, and aims to raise that figure to 30,000 this year. It also hosts workshop events across the country. 

Ian Rand, CEO of Barclays Business Banking, said: “We’re on a mission to educate all small businesses of the growing risk of cybercrime and fraud. 

“The staggering cost of these crimes can stop a small business from investing in new jobs, training or equipment, in turn boosting local economies. 

“Fraudsters are targeting hard-working entrepreneurs, in some cases impersonating suppliers and staff, intercepting emails and sending fake invoices. 

“However, the good news is that the vast majority of fraud against businesses can be easily prevented. Simple steps to increase security, such as having strong passwords and increased staff awareness, can all help combat fraud.” 

Top tips to help SMEs tackle cybercrime: 

  1. Strong defence: The best way to keep attackers out is a strong password. It's much harder for fraudsters if you use lower and upper case letters, along with numbers and symbols
  2. Build a wall: Protect your computers with anti-virus software, as well as a good firewall, and keep software updated regularly. Delete unsolicited emails with links and attachments as these could allow fraudsters to infect your device
  3. Call offside: If something feels wrong speak up and check it. Don’t assume a call, text, email or invoice is genuine, fraudsters can sound convincing. Always check requests using known contact details and never move funds to a ‘safe account;’ even if the request appears to have come from your bank or CEO
  4. Pay by the rules: Have a clear procedure for making payments in your firm. Always check email requests to make payments or to change payment instructions by calling a trusted number, not by return email. Unexpected calls, particularly from fraudsters claiming to be from telecoms providers and retailers are on the rise – so make sure you stay alert
  5. Team talk: Every team is only as strong as your weakest link. Boost tactical knowledge and share guidance with your team. Find out more on the Barclays fraud awareness site 

Customers should get in touch immediately with Barclays if they feel they have been the victim of a scam on 0800 3891 652. 

Find out more on the Barclays fraud awareness site:       


[i] 10.6% of all SMEs surveyed had suffered a cyber-attack. 8.58% of these had made staff redundant to cover the cost of cybercrime. There are 5,687,000 small and medium-sized businesses in the UK (source: meaning a minimum of 52,120 business have made at least one redundancy as a result of cybercrime

[ii] Average cost per affected company was £34,942

[iii] In only 33% of cases was the cost of the crime covered by either a bank, credit card provider or insurer

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