Beware - not all contacts are real contacts!
We all want new clients, a flowing pipeline, ongoing connections... but beware, not everyone who contacts you will be exactly who they seem.
I recently received a referral by email. It sounded great, all the services I provide, whoo-hoo, let’s get going! But there were some elements of the initial contact that I was concerned about and it’s worth reading on because, in the end... I was actually hacked.
So, here’s the story in bullet points:
- The email I received did have some inconsistencies. I noticed that straight off. The email address was different to the person that had signed it off. No worries, as there can be a number of people who run a company, so I thought
- I was invited to log into Dropbox to view the files I would need to use to complete the bookkeeping and any tax returns. I tried to log in but my ID and password were constantly declined – I really should have learnt my lesson then and there and stopped!
- I immediately rang the number given at the bottom of the email. I’ve always believed that a phone call with a new client can make a difference, that’s the personal touch; it is also vital for AML (Anti-Money Laundering) purposes. But I went to a voicemail that said that the box was full and then the line went dead. Wake up Paula!!!
- Undeterred, I like a good sale, I waited for a couple of days. I tried again on the phone but the message was the same.
- Another email came back giving a new Dropbox address to use – and finally, I woke up!
Fortunately for me, the account that was hacked is one I rarely use. I know it was accessed as the account provider sent a number of emails to warn me that my account had been accessed elsewhere. The AML system set up by ICB is explanatory. We can, and should, log our clients straight away. The questions asked make us truly think about the contacts that we are engaging with. It does ask if we have personally met them and have we been to their premises. I now know why these are very key questions – because if you haven’t considered these questions you don’t truly know who you are dealing with!
I was fortunate, nothing was taken from me, but it could have been. As ICB Bookkeepers, we need to be vigilant! That is what makes us stand us out from every other bookkeeper.
Be bold, get clients but don’t kiss your brains goodbye! If you are at all worried about anyone who contacts you please contact ICB.