In recent news, a well-known UK-based umbrella company appears to have been struck by cyber-security breaches – causing havoc to the organisation, its employees and the supply chain. This blog explains what recruitment agencies can do to protect themselves and their candidates from unscrupulous activities (security threats) within the supply chain. Sadly, recruitment agencies appear to have been targeted too, as we explain below.
A leading FCSA accredited umbrella company has been struck by a severe security breach, resulting in all systems being shut down and thousands of employees missing payments. The news has shaken the industry.
It appears that criminal organisations are creating new companies with very similar names to established umbrella companies trading in the UK. Criminals are then posing as the legitimate umbrella company when communicating with agencies – trying to trick them into making payments to a different bank account.
Astonishingly, the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association (FCSA) said the following in a recent news publication:
“Around ten FCSA member firms appear to be subject to cloning, and we have worked closely with those FCSA firms to both highlight the issue and ensure that they have been in contact with their agency partners. In addition, we have notified agencies and end hirers via our September newsletter, which is circulated to over 5,000 subscribers, to ensure that they are fully informed of the issue.”
Phil Pluck, Chief Executive at the FCSA, said:
“I can only assume that this cloning activity is designed to persuade others to think that they are dealing with a legitimate partner and that there is a financial motive underlying this activity.
This is not just aimed at FCSA companies, and so I would advise any agency dealing with any partner company where money is transferred to agree on a clear transfer protocol with their partner and to treat with caution any approach that states that banking arrangements have been altered or bank accounts have changed and that funds should now be diverted to that account.
We live in a highly cynical cyber world where there are many attempts to steal money from innocent parties. Thanks to the detailed due diligence checks that we have in place at FCSA, we were able to alert FCSA members and their partners to this issue at the earliest possible moment.”
Tips to protect your recruitment agency from cyber-criminals
The following tips will help protect your recruitment agency and your candidates from cyber-criminals.
- Arrange a meeting with internal members of your team at your earliest convenience to make them aware of the threats to recruitment organisations.
- If you ever receive any communication from a business partner and you’re unsure if it’s legitimate, always contact the company first before taking any action.
- Never update bank account details for a partner until you have spoken to your Account Manager at that company or the Finance Department.
- Always ensure you are 100% confident you are sending money to the right place.
- Should you ever receive any unscrupulous correspondence – alert the company that’s being cloned, and ensure everyone at your recruitment agency is aware of the activity.
- If you receive communication that you believe is a scam, contact the sender’s professional body – if they have one (for example, the FCSA and Professional Passport). Professional bodies can share your information quickly with the supply chain to protect other organisations.
- Remind your candidates that if they ever need to make a payment to your partners, check the bank details with their point of contact (Account Manager) first.
- Only refer your candidates to businesses with a good reputation and professional accreditation.
Adding Churchill Knight to your agency’s Preferred Supplier List (PSL)
Churchill Knight is on an ever-increasing number of Preferred Suppler Lists (PSL), and this is thanks to our FCSA accreditation* and commitment to customer service. If your agency or candidates are not receiving the level of service you expect from your partnered umbrella companies, may it’s time to rethink your PSL and add Churchill Knight.
Our dedicated Agency Department is ready for your referrals – whether you’re looking to refer the occasional contractor, or you have dozens that you’d like to send over at once. We’ll ensure your candidates are given a thorough overview of our service, as well as a tailored pay calculation. If they’re happy and would like to register, we’ll guide them through the process – answering any questions as they arise. You will always be kept up to date with your candidates’ progress.
We take security extremely seriously and have multiple systems in place to protect our partners, accountancy clients and umbrella employees. Please get in contact with us if you would like more information.