26/11/2018

Securing Your Bank Account

Having spent the last few years watching the news fill up with stories about people losing money through scams, I reckoned securing your bank account was a good place to start regarding simple procedures you can put in place today to make sure you don’t become the next victim.

I used to use a little diagram to talk about security which you’ll see elsewhere on the internet. It basically was a triangle: on one corner was price, on another was ease of use and on the last was security. The idea being that the area in the triangle is fixed and if you increase security you affect something else as well. Ultimately what it demonstrates is that if you want to increase security and keep the ease of use the same you need to pay more. It’s simple really.

Security and tolerating annoyance

However, over the last number of months I have come to the conclusion that, while the above graphic is pretty accurate for the most part it’s easier to think of it as a line.

Security - Zero Tolerance
Security - Zero Tolerance

 

A line with ‘Security’ at one end and ‘Zero tolerance of annoyance’ at the other. This is actually the heart of ‘process’ when you think about. A company or individual’s ability to carry out a process is the same as their ability to set out some actions and do them over and over again even when they are a bit mundane because you know that ultimately it will save a life, a pound or whatever.

Last week I was party to a conversation with a client regarding password policy. The client was adamant that they do not need one. Suffice to say, said client has a fairly low tolerance for annoyance. If you have been following this blog for any length of time you will know that I also have a fairly dim view of password policies, at least in so far as they are a bare minimum requirement and cannot be relied upon to secure pretty much anything on their own.

I bit my lip, hard. What I wanted to say was. “I have looked in the diary and next Wednesday is looking free. Why don’t you post all your files on the internet next Wednesday and at least I can guarantee we will have staff available to deal with the ensuing catastrophe. As somewhat of a twofer it will also save me having to feign shock in six months’ time when you call to deliver the inevitable news on a Friday evening at 4:49pm when no one is available to help you.”

Putting a single process in place

Anyway, I digress, back to tolerance of annoyance and its key role in security. Last week, I was handed something, and I thought it was worth talking it through as it related to bank accounts. We had received a letter from Close Finance (a fairly well–known invoice finance company) telling us that they had changed their bank account details. Now we have a policy that says every time a change of bank details comes through, a director must either, call that company from a known good telephone number (i.e. not the one on the paperwork or email) or if not available, search them on Google, get their number and call them and confirm those bank details.

It would be fair to say I was 99% sure it was fine, but we have a process. I am a Director, and whether I like it or not I set the tone. I am an exemplar of how we treat problems and handle annoyance. If I bail at the first hurdle, what example am I setting to the staff? So, I looked up Google, checked their number and called them. Job done. It took all of 5 minutes, if even.

Simple safety

The thing is, this simple process will ensure, more or less, that you don’t pay money to scammers. It’s far from the only thing you need to be doing but it’s a great start. However, I know that many of the people that read this will not do it because “it’s a bit of an annoyance”.

If you have any input into these processes though you should sort this out, because people are losing substantial sums of money. Life–changing sums of money. You now know how to fix it. Money has nothing to do with it. It is simply your ability to tolerate a bit of annoyance.

To make matters worse, I have yet to see one of these ‘can’t be bothered’ moments hold up to any real scrutiny. So, if and when it does happen, you will have the ignominy of having someone go through your actions with a toothcomb and they will not hold up. You will feel like some guy trying to explain why he paid £50,000 to a Nigerian prince to get a share of 25 million in raw diamonds. If you are responsible, you will be lucky if people trust you to make the tea when the dust eventually settles. On almost every occasion I see this happen they occur as minor lapses in judgement, busy days causing inattention, etc. That is precisely why this little process is worth its weight in gold. Person up and start today.

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