Small Business Fraud Custom Study among Small Business Owners Conducted for SunTrust Banks/National Small Business Association/Edelman

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1 Small Business Fraud Custm Study amng Small Business Owners Cnducted fr SunTrust Banks/Natinal Small Business Assciatin/Edelman Octber 17, 2007

2 Objective & Methdlgy Objective In cllabratin with SunTrust Banks and Edelman, StrategyOne cnducted a study t explre the issue f fraud amng small business wners. Specifically, the bjective f the study is t better understand small business wners cncern ver fraud, the mst prevalent types f fraud affecting them, and what steps they are currently taking t prtect themselves frm fraud. The results f the study will be used fr targeted media utreach in supprt f SunTrust Banks new prduct Online Cash Manager with Fraud Inspectr. Study Design: StrategyOne, an applied research cnsulting firm, cnducted a custm nline survey f 500 small business wners in the Sutheast (AL, DC, GA, FL, MD, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV) between September 28 and Octber 8, 2007 using the field services f TNS. The margin f errr fr the ttal sample f adults (N=511) is ±4.3 at the 95% level f cnfidence, which means that in 95 ut f 100 times that a sample f this size is drawn, the results wuld nt vary by mre than 4.3 percentage pints in either directin. 2

3 Executive Summary Small Businesses Online Reliance Leaves Them Vulnerable and Cncerned Over Fraud The Internet is an integral part f running a small business. Frm cnducting business transactins t cmmunicating with key stakehlders like custmers, small businesses have becme increasingly reliant n the Internet t cnduct basic peratins. Hwever, this increased dependence n the Internet des nt cme withut risk, with the majrity f small business wners cncerned abut fraud in their cnnectin t their business s finances. Specifically, fraud scams like nline identity theft are at the frefrnt f small business wners list f wrries and nline hackers tp their list f ptential culprits. Fr Many, Fraud Experience is Immediate and Real Small business wners are n strangers t fraud in their business, with a quarter having persnally been the victim f fraud, particularly check fraud and credit card fraud. Men were significantly mre likely than wmen t reprt that their business has been the victim f fraud. Interestingly, while nline identity theft tps the list f fraud cncerns, check fraud and credit card fraud are the mst frequently experienced typed f fraud. With fraud striking small businesses an average f six times, it is apparent that fraud is a detriment t the livelihd f a small business resulting in tens f thusands f dllars in lsses. Althugh mst fraud victims surveyed reprt that the fraud was detected in under a week, they generally were nt the first t ntice it rather their banks tended t make the discvery. Banks Play a Vital Rle in Fraud Prtectin, but Mre is Warranted As the first t detect fraud, banks are cnsidered the first line f defense in safeguarding small businesses. While the majrity f small business wners believe they are infrmed abut fraud, they als recgnize their vulnerability and believe their banks shuld be mre practive in the fight against fraud. As such, many small business wners vice the need fr mre infrmatin and preventin ptins, with the majrity pen t fraud preventin prgrams that prvide the ability t review transactins that have cleared their accunt. Verbatim cmments suggest that small business wners are particularly interested in being educated abut hw best t recgnize fraud in their business as well as mre practive measures by their bank t detect fraud. 3

4 Key Findings I. CONDUCTING BUSINESS ONLINE The majrity f small business wners depend n the Internet t run a successful business. Three-quarters f small business wners (74%) reprt that their business is highly reliant n the Internet t cnduct its verall peratins. Small business wners under the age f 45, thse earning $5 millin r mre in grss annual revenue, and thse with 50 r mre emplyees are significantly mre likely than their cunterparts t rely n the Internet t cnduct its verall peratins. Three-quarters f Small Business Owners Reliant n Internet fr Its Operatins Nt at all reliant, 4% Nt very reliant, 4% Smewhat reliant, 18% Extremely reliant, 37% Very reliant, 37% Reliant NET =74% B3. Hw reliant is yur business n the Internet t cnduct its verall peratins? Wuld yu say it is Cnducting business via the Internet is essential fr mst small business wners, with many using it as a cmmunicatin tl and means t rganize business finances. The majrity f small business wners (70%) reprt that their business cnducts nline transactins r activities with banks/ financial services prviders. Small business wners ver 45 and thse with 10 r fewer emplyees are significantly less likely than their cunterparts t reprt cnducting nline transactin with banks/ financial service prviders. Tw-thirds f small business wners als reprt that their business cnducts transactins r activities with suppliers (67%) and custmers (67%). Less frequently, small business wners reprt that their business cnducts nline transactins r activities with emplyees (48%) and creditrs (43%). 4

5 Small Business Owners Cnduct Online Activities Mstly With Banks Any NET 93% Banks/ financial service prviders Suppliers Custmers 70% 67% 67% Ttal small business wners Emplyees 48% Creditrs 43% B2. With which f the fllwing des yur business cnduct nline transactins r activities? Nearly all small business wners (92%) perfrm sme banking activities nline, with three-quarters (76%) viewing accunt balances and statements nline fr their businesses. Seven in ten small business wners pay bills (70%) and transfer funds (68%) nline fr their business. Other activities that small business wners perfrm nline fr their business include: - Ordering checks (54%) - Making a stp payment (36%) - Applying fr a lan (29%) Varius Banking Activities Perfrmed Online By Small Businesses Any NET 92% Viewing accunt balances and statements Paying bills Transferring funds Ordering checks 76% 70% 68% 54% Ttal small business wners Making a stp payment Applying fr a lan 29% 36% Other 2% B5. Which, if any, f the fllwing banking activities d yu perfrm nline fr yur business? 5

6 And small business wners reliance n the Internet shws n signs f decreasing in the near future. Eight in ten small business wners (78%) reprt that the amunt f business that they cnduct nline has increased ver the past year. Small business wners under the age f 45, thse earning $5 millin r mre in grss annual revenue, and thse with 50+ emplyees are significantly mre likely than their cunterparts t reprt that the amunt f business that they cnduct nline has increased ver the past year. Increase in Business Cnducted Online Over Past Year Decreased significantly, 0% Decreased smewhat, 1% Increased signficantly, 32% Remained the same, 21% Increased NET =78% Increased smewhat, 46% B4. Thinking abut the past year, has the amunt f business that yu cnduct nline II. CONCERNS OVER FRAUD With their heavy nline expsure, the majrity f small business wners are cncerned abut fraud. The tp ranked wrry is nline identity theft, and the mst threatening audience is nline hackers. The majrity f small business wners (84%) are cncerned abut fraud in cnnectin t their business s finances, with fur in ten reprting that they are very cncerned (42%). Small business wners under the age f 45 and thse with 50+ emplyees are significantly mre likely than their cunterparts t be very cncerned abut fraud in cnnectin t their business s finances. 6

7 Small Business Owners Cncerned Abut Fraud Affecting Business s Finances Nt at all cncerned, 3% Nt very cncerned, 13% Very cncerned, 42% Cncerned NET =84% Smewhat cncerned, 42% C1. Hw cncerned wuld yu say yu are abut fraud in cnnectin t yur business s finances? Wuld yu say yu are In fact, three-quarters f small business wners (75%) state that they are mre cncerned abut business fraud nw than they were a year ag. Ttal small business wners I am mre cncerned abut business fraud nw than I was a year ag 35% 40% Agree NET 75% Strngly agree Smewhat agree C7. I m ging t read yu a list f statements and I d like yu t tell me if yu strngly agree, smewhat agree, smewhat disagree, r strngly disagree with each. Online identity theft is a wrry fr tw-thirds f small business wners (65%), and tps the list f fraud cncerns. Online hackers are cnsidered the biggest ptential surce f fraud (67%). 7

8 While cncerns are nt cnfined t nline identity theft, many small business wners als wrry abut credit card and check fraud. Credit card fraud (62%) is nt far behind nline identity theft n the list f small business cncerns. Check fraud (e.g., frged r altered checks) (50%) als ranked highly, with half f small business wners stating that they are cncerned with this pssibility. Less frequently reprted respnses include: - Over-payment scams (29%) - Fraud invlving cash receipts (29%) - Cunterfeit cashier s checks (29%) - Cunterfeit mney rders (25%) Online Identity Theft Tps the List f Fraud Cncerns Any NET 92% Online identity theft Credit card fraud 65% 62% Check fraud (e.g., frged r altered checks) Over-payment scams 29% 50% Ttal small business wners Fraud invlving cash receipts 29% Cunterfeit cashier's checks 29% Cunterfeit mney rders 25% Other 1% C3. Nw thinking abut specific types f fraud, which f the fllwing might yu be cncerned abut? Aside frm nline hackers, small business wners als are cncerned abut custmers as ptential surces f fraud. Fur in ten small business wners (38%) reprt being cncerned abut custmers as a ptential surce f fraud. Small business wners als reprt being cncerned abut emplyees (32%) and suppliers/vendrs (27%) as ptential surces f fraud. 8

9 Online Hackers Highest Ptential Surce f Fraud Any NET 94% Online hackers 67% Custmers Emplyees 32% 38% Ttal small business wners Suppliers/Vendrs 27% Other 1% C5. Which, if any, f the fllwing categries f peple are yu cncerned abut as a ptential surces f fraud? III. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH FRAUD Fraud tuches tw in three small business wners either directly r via the grapevine. One-quarter f small business wners (24%) reprt that their business has been the victim f fraud. Nearly half (47%) knw f ther businesses that have been a victim f fraud. Fraud Tuches Tw in Three Small Business Owners Either Directly r Via the Grapevine My business has been a victim f fraud 24% I knw f ther businesses that have been victims f fraud 47% Ttal small business wners I d nt have any experience with business fraud 34% D1. Which f the fllwing describes yur business s experience with fraud? 9

10 Male small business wners, thse under 45, and thse earning $5 millin+ in grss annual revenues are significantly mre likely than their female, lder, and lwer revenue cunterparts t reprt that their business has been the victim f fraud. Specific Grups Mre Likely T Be Fraud Victims 50% 40% 30% 29% * 27% * 31% * 20% 16% 18% 20% 10% 0% Male Female Under $1M-$5M grss annual revenue Has been the victim f fraud $5M+ grss annual revenue D1. Which f the fllwing describes yur business s experience with fraud? * Indicates significant difference Small business wners reprt that their business has been the victim f fraud several times, lsing tens f thusands f dllars in the past five years. Nearly half f small business wners reprt that their business has been the victim f fraud 3 r mre times (46%), with sme experiencing fraud mre than 10 times in their business (13%). On average, small business wners wh have experienced fraud reprt that their business has been a victim six times. Small business wners with 50+ emplyees have experienced fraud in their business significantly mre than thse with fewer emplyees. 10

11 1-2 times NET Nearly Half f Small Business Owners Impacted by Fraud 3 r Mre Times 46% Once Twice 17% 29% Have been a victim f fraud 3 r mre times NET 46% 3-5 times 28% 6-10 times 5% Mean = 6 Times Mre than 10 13% 0% 20% 40% 60% D2. T the best f yur knwledge, hw many times has yur business been the victim f fraud? [SELECT ONE.] This has translated t mney lst, with fur in ten small business wners (38%) reprting lsses f ver $50,000 in the past five years due t fraud. Small business wners have lst an average f $38,800 in the past five years due t fraud. One in Fur Have Lst $50K r Mre Due t Fraud Less than $50,000 NET 40% Less than $10,000 $10,000-$49,999 $50,000 r mre NET 19% 21% 26% Have been a victim f fraud $50,000-$99,999 9% $100,000-$149,999 $150,000 r mre 5% 12% Mean = $38,800 Nne 32% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% D5. In the past five years, hw much mney d yu estimate that yur business has lst due t fraud? [SELECT ONE.] 11

12 Interestingly, althugh nline identity theft tps the list f fraud cncerns, check fraud and credit card fraud are the mst frequently experienced typed f fraud. After credit card fraud (52%), check fraud (45%) is the secnd mst cmmn fraud small business wners wh have been victims f fraud have experienced. Credit Card and Check Fraud Mst Cmmn Types Amng Thse Wh Have Experienced Fraud Any fraud (NET) 98% Credit card fraud Check fraud (frged r altered checks) Online identity theft Fraud invlving cash receipts Cunterfeit cashier's checks Cunterfeit mney rders Over-payment scams 52% 45% 36% 25% 22% 21% 21% Have been a victim f fraud Other 3% D3. Which f the fllwing types f fraud has yur business experienced? [RANDOMIZE. SELECT MULTIPLE.] Custmers and emplyees tp the list f peple wh have actually cmmitted fraud against small businesses (in cntrast with the greatest cncern ver nline hackers). Custmers (43%) and emplyees (41%) tp the list f peple wh have cmmitted fraud against small business wners wh have experienced fraud. Nt far behind, 38% f small business wners reprt that nline hackers have cmmitted fraud against their business. One-quarter f small business wners wh have been a victim f fraud reprt that suppliers/vendrs (27%) and business partners (25%) have cmmitted fraud against their business. 12

13 Emplyees and Custmers Leading Culprits f Fraud Any (NET) 94% Custmers Emplyees Online hackers 41% 38% 43% Suppliers/Vendrs Business partners 27% 25% Have been a victim f fraud Other 3% D4. Which, if any, f the fllwing categries f peple have cmmitted fraud against yur business? [RANDOMIZE. SELECT MULTIPLE.] Fr the majrity f thse wh have experienced fraud in their businesses, it has been a recent event, with a third experiencing it in the past six mnths. Six in ten small business wners (62%) wh have been a victim f business fraud reprt that it has been under a year since their last experience. One-third reprt that the last time they ve experienced fraud in their business is in the past six mnths (31%), with anther third reprt last experiencing fraud in the past year (31%). Small business wners less frequently reprt experiencing fraud mre than a year ag (36%), with a minrity stating the last time they ve experienced fraud in their business is mre than ten years ag (3%). 13

14 Fraud Likely t Have Been A Recent Experience Under a year NET 62% In the past six mnths In the past year Mre than a year NET In the past five years 31% 31% 36% 31% Have been a victim f fraud In the past ten years Mre than ten years ag 2% 3% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% D6. When was the last time that yu experienced fraud in yur business? [SELECT ONE.] While small business wners reprt becming aware f fraud in their business in under a week, they are usually nt the first t ntice it. Six in ten small business wners (61%) wh have been a victim f business fraud reprt that they became aware f the fraud in under a week. One in five small business fraud victims reprt that they became aware f the fraud the same day (17%) r the next day (17%). A minrity reprt discvering this fraud later, with nly 4% becming aware f this fraud within six mnths r within a year (4%). Over Half Reprt Lag Time Between Occurrence and Detectin t Be Less than One Week Under a week NET Under a mnth NET The same day The next day Within a week Within a cuple f weeks Within a mnth Within six mnths Within a year After a year 17% 17% 27% 16% 11% 4% 4% 2% 61% 88% Have been a victim f fraud D7. Thinking f yur mst recent experience with fraud, hw lng after the fraud ccurred did yu becme aware f it? [SELECT ONE.] 14

15 Hwever, small business wners are nt the first t detect the fraud, with three in ten small business wners (29%) reprting that in their mst recent experience with fraud, their bank was the first t detect the fraud in their business. A clse secnd, small business fraud victims reprt that in their mst recent experience with fraud, an emplyee at their business was the first persn t detect the fraud (28%). One-quarter f small business fraud victims (24%) wh have experienced fraud state that they were the nes wh first detected the fraud in their mst recent experience with fraud. Less frequently reprted were their accuntant (10%) and business partner (1%). Three in Ten Small Business Owners Banks Detect Fraud Befre They D Any (NET) 98% Yur bank 29% An emplyee at yur business Yu Yur accuntant 10% 28% 24% Have been a victim f fraud A business partner Other 1% 6% D8. Still thinking abut yur mst recent experience with fraud, wh was the first persn t detect the fraud? [SELECT ONE.] IV. PROTECTION AGAINST FRAUD Mst small business wners reprt being infrmed abut fraud, with many relying n their bank fr expertise. The strng majrity f small business wners (87%) reprt that they are infrmed abut hw t prtect their business against fraud. Small business wners under the age f 45 are significantly mre likely than thse age 45 r lder t reprt being infrmed abut fraud (90% vs. 83%). 15

16 Mst Small Business Owners Believe They Are Infrmed Abut Fraud Nt at all infrmed, 1% Nt very well infrmed, 12% Very infrmed, 26% Infrmed NET =87% Smewhat infrmed, 61% E1. Hw well infrmed d yu believe yu currently are abut hw t prtect yur business frm fraud? Wuld yu say yu are [SELECT ONE.] In fact, small business wners rely mst heavily n their banks fr advice, with half reprting that they have cnsulted their bank abut hw t prtect their business against fraud (48%). Accuntants/bkkeepers (38%), attrneys/legal services (32%), and business partners/c-wrkers (31%) are als ppular resurces small business wners have cnsulted t prtect their business frm fraud. Small business wners als reprt cnsulting ther surces, including: - Other business wners (28%) - Business assciatins/trade grups (27%) - Family member (e.g., spuse, parent, etc.) (20%) - Gvernment/regulatry agency (17%) - Emplyees (16%) 16

17 Small Business Owners Rely Mainly On Banks Fr Prtectin Against Fraud Any (NET) 86% Bank 48% Accuntant/bkeeper Attrney/legal services Business partners/c-wrkers Other business wners Business assciatin/trade grup Family member (e.g., spuse, parent, etc.) Gvernment/regulatry agency Emplyees 38% 32% 31% 28% 27% 20% 17% 16% Ttal small business wners Other 3% E4. Which, if any, f the fllwing peple r institutins have yu cnsulted abut hw t prtect yur business frm fraud? Further, the majrity have taken actins t prtect their business against fraud. Tw-thirds f small business wners (66%) have taken actins t prtect their business against fraud in the past five years. Amng thse wh have taken actin, half have cnsulted thers (55%) and taken nline-related measures (49%) in rder t safeguard their business against fraud. The mst cmmn prcedure that small business wners have taken t prtect their business frm fraud has been t develp prcedures fr reviewing recent financial transactins (56%). Half f small business wners reprt that in rder t prtect their business against fraud they have limited the access emplyees have t accunts (51%), limited cmmunicatins with unknwn parties (49%), and instituted stricter financial management plicies and prcedures (49%). Other actins that small business wners have taken t prtect their business against fraud include: - Cnducted backgrund checks n emplyees and suppliers (46%) - Sught advice frm yur bank (44%) - Purchased insurance t cver fraud-related lss (36%) - Limited financial transactins nline (36%) - Cnsulted ther business wners (31%) - Limited nline purchases f yur business s prducts and services (30%) 17

18 Over Half Cnsult with Others fr Advice/Guidance in Prtecting Their Business Against Fraud Any NET 99% Cnsulted thers NET Online-related NET Develped prcedures fr reviewing recent financial transactins Limited the access emplyees have t accunts Instituted stricter financial management plicies and prcedures Limited cmmunicatins with unknwn parties Cnducted backgrund checks n emplyees and suppliers Sught advice frm yur bank 55% 49% 56% 51% 49% 49% 46% 44% Have taken actins t prtect business against fraud Limited financial transactins nline Purchased insurance t cver fraud-related lss Cnsulted ther business wners Limited nline purchases f yur business s prducts and services 36% 36% 31% 30% E3. Which, if any, f the fllwing actins have yu taken t prtect yur business against fraud? [RANDOMIZE. SELECT MULTIPLE.] Hwever, small business wners als express vulnerability and the need fr mre prtectin against fraud. Six in ten small business wners (58%) believe they currently are vulnerable t fraud in cnnectin t their business s finances. Small business wners under the age f 45, thse earning $5 millin+ in grss annual revenue, and thse with 50+ emplyees are significantly mre likely than their lder, lwer revenue, and smaller emplyee-sized cunterparts t reprt feeling vulnerable t fraud in cnnectin t their business s finances. Interestingly, a quarter f small business wners (23%) believe smaller businesses are mst vulnerable t fraud (vs. 18% saying larger businesses). 18

19 Six in Ten Believe They Are Vulnerable t Fraud Nt very vulnerable, 36% Nt at all vulnerable, 6% Very vulnerable, 16% Smewhat vulnerable, 42% Vulnerable NET =58% C2. Hw vulnerable d yu believe yu currently are t fraud in cnnectin t yur business s finances? Wuld yu say yu are This feeling f vulnerability is increasing as the majrity f small business wners (78%) believe their business may face mre risk frm fraud ver the next few years. Small business wners als feel unarmed t fight fraud; six in ten (62%) agree that businesses the size f theirs have limited ptins t safeguard against fraud. Small Business Owners Believe They Have Limited Optins Against Fraud I believe my business may face mre risk frm fraud ver the next few years Businesses the size f mine have limited ptins t safeguard against fraud 62% 78% Ttal small business wners C9 & C10. I m ging t read yu a list f statements and I d like yu t tell me if yu strngly agree, smewhat agree, smewhat disagree, r strngly disagree with each. 19

20 In fact, many small business wners believe their banks shuld play an active rle in prtecting them against fraud and are nt ding enugh. Just ver half (54%) reprt that their bank ffers nline services t detect fraud, with a full three-quarters utilizing these services (77%) Half f small business wners either are unsure (31%) f their banks nline fraud detectin services r say that their banks d nt ffer these services (15%). Many Small Business Owners Unaware f Online Services Offered By Their Bank Yes, 54% Dn't knw, 31% N, 15% E5. T the best f yur knwledge, des yur bank ffer any nline services t detect fraud? Eight in ten business wners (83%) wish banks ffered businesses mre help in fighting against fraud. Mrever, nearly all small business wners wuld be interested in prtectin ptins if they were ffered nline by their bank. The plurality f small business wners wish there was a way t detect business fraud t prevent r limit lss (87%) and wish there was mre infrmatin available abut preventing fraud in their business (82%). 20

21 Small Businesses Mre Cncerned abut Fraud, Lking t Banks fr Prtectin I wish there was a way t detect business fraud t prevent r limit lss I wish there was mre infrmatin available abut preventing fraud in my business 82% 87% Ttal small business wners C8 & C12. I m ging t read yu a list f statements and I d like yu t tell me if yu strngly agree, smewhat agree, smewhat disagree, r strngly disagree with each. In verbatim respnses t the questin What is the mst imprtant thing yur financial service prvider culd d t help prtect yur business against fraud, respndents expressed the need fr educatin abut prtectin and practive measures frm their financial service prviders t help prtect their business against fraud. Specifically, respndents said: Make us mre knwledgeable abut what t lk fr regarding fraud. What are the red flags? Is there smething we shuld be lking fr that may indicate a prblem? Watch my accunt fr any transactin that desn t match what they already knw abut. We d all banking and bill payment nline already. They knw exactly wh shuld be withdrawing funds. Cmmunicatin is the mst imprtant thing my financial service prvider culd d t help. In additin, nearly three-quarters f small business wners (74%) reprt that they wuld be interested in the ability t have suspected fraudulent items reversed ut f their accunt if it were ffered nline by their bank. Six in ten small business wners state that they wuld be interested in the ability t have 60 days f check image histry (61%), the ability t review the previus business day s transactins that have cleared their accunt (61%), and the ability t review up t 18 mnths f accunt statements (60%) if it were ffered nline by their bank. 21

22 Small Business Owners Open t a Variety f Fraud Prtectin Services Any (NET) 93% The ability t have suspected fraudulent items reversed ut f yur accunt 74% The ability t have 60 days f check image histry The ability t review the previus business day's transactins that have cleared yur accunt 61% 61% Ttal small business wners The ability t review up t 18 mnths f accunt statements 60% E8. Which, if any, f the fllwing services wuld yu be interested in if it were ffered nline by yur bank? V. APPENDIX: RESPONDENT PROFILE Three-quarters f small business wners state that their cmpany has been in business fr 5 years r mre, with 13 years being the average. On average, male small business wners have been in business significantly lnger than female business wners (14 years vs. 11 years). Small business wners reprt their business s grss annual revenue at $5,500,000, n average. Grss annual revenue is significantly less fr female small business wners than male small business wners, n average ($5,100,000 vs. $5,800,000). Nearly half f small business wners have between 11 and 49 emplyees, with 143 emplyees being the average. Fur in ten respndents reprt that their business is in retail trade, prfessinal services, r cnstructin. 22

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