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Fraud Protection for Businesses

Vigilance Against Fraud on Company Bank Accounts Calls for Teamwork

by Carrie Kirby

In This Article:

Key things to consider when combating fraud:

Something about the call seemed fishy.

First, the caller claimed to be a familiar customer, but Eddie Buttross, Vice President of Commercial Banking at First Horizon, didn't recognize the voice.

Then there was the international wire transfer the caller was inquiring about. The fraud department had flagged it because it didn't match the customer's usual pattern of business.

“The request was to send $2 million overseas to buy oilfield equipment because they were (supposedly) setting up a drilling rig. The customer is in the oilfield business, but they're not in the drilling rig business," Buttross says.

When Buttross and his colleagues put their heads together, they were able to stop what turned out to be a fraudulent transaction attempt.


“Knowing the customer – their voice, their name, what they do, and what they don't do  helped save them $2 million.”

– Eddie Buttross
Vice President of Commercial Banking at First Horizon


That save might have been more dramatic than most. But collaborating across departments to maintain vigilance against ever-evolving threats is an everyday thing at First Horizon.

“Fraud prevention is part of every conversation I have," says Paige Jones, another First Horizon VP. As a treasury management specialist, Jones partners with Buttross to analyze the flow of cash through a client's organization. “Once we deeply understand the cycle, we can identify potential weaknesses and build in solutions to make it stronger."

An evolving threat

Advances in technology make our world more convenient and interconnected – but bad actors leverage the same advances to find new ways to steal. Over decades, check forgers evolved from using typewriters to computer applications to mobile uploads. Now, companies everywhere face frequent digital fraud attempts, such as unauthorized ACH (Automated Clearing House) debits and wire transfers.1 The attacks often start with email hacks like phishing, Jones says.

The pain of financial loss is front and center, but that's not the only risk. Business disruption can be even more damaging.
“For instance, a medical clinic receives many electronic payments from insurance companies every day. If one account is hit with fraud, they'll have to direct the insurance company to send payments to a different account. It may take months before that payment gets rerouted, which is a huge disruption in the clinic's cash flow," Jones explains.

Implementing the right tools

Some of the products and services that First Horizon customers use to guard against fraud:

  • ACH Positive Pay and Check Positive Pay give clients insight and control over debits from accounts, as well as backup scrutiny to flag transactions that need a second look.
  • ACH Debit Block allows clients to review every attempt at an ACH debit, eliminating the possibility of unauthorized or automated debits.
  • Commercial Credit Cards offer large businesses a high level of control over employee card use, such as giving different employees different levels of spending permission.

A shared responsibility

While products and services are important parts of safeguarding the cash in a company's bank account, there's more to it than that. Both the bank and the client must take active roles in fraud prevention, Jones and Buttross agree.

“We both have responsibility in this fight against fraud," Jones says.

Client best practices

On the client's end, that means sticking to best practices, such as:

  • Requiring dual controls for wire transfers. If employee A initiates a movement of money out of a company account, employee B must approve it before the transfer initiates.
  • Daily monitoring of all accounts. “Fraudsters will try to target larger companies with a debit of $2,000 or $3,000, hoping they won't catch it because of the large number of transactions going through," Buttross warns.
  • Managing employee permissions. “At First Horizon, we're able to provide robust and very granular permission sets for users," Jones says. “You can give one user access to five accounts, but another user access to only one."
  • Choosing safer ways to move money. While wire transfers and checks are a convenient way to move money, a more secure option could be corporate credit card accounts, Jones says. They can provide both greater safeguards and more flexibility.

A team approach

On the bank's end, vigilance against fraud involves a combination of internal prevention protocols, products, and services, and, as the oil company save demonstrated, knowing the customer.

“It's a combination of a product set that can handle the security needs of large businesses, and the people that you're dealing with: your bankers, your treasury officers, and the staff that support them," Buttross says.

Keeping up with evolving security challenges requires integrating many layers – your internal protocols, the tools and services you use, and the team battling alongside you. On all those fronts, First Horizon works with commercial customers to maintain constant vigilance.


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