Don’t get Clotheslined: Keep an Eye Out for Wire Fraud Red Flags


There are many companies that send wires to complete transactions. Sending a wire is a completely legitimate way to transfer funds, but it is also one of the riskiest. Expert Nancy Schultz in Merchants Bank’s Wire Transfer Department are always on the lookout for the red flags of wire fraud. Here’s what you can look for too.

Red Flags

“Once a wire is sent, it’s extremely hard to get back,” Nancy Schultz, Wire Department Officer said. “We’re always on our toes here, and being suspicious has helped us catch a lot of fraud.”

Often, fraud starts with Business Email Compromise (BEC), which is when fraudsters have hacked an email account and sent a wire request or instructions that appear to be from a coworker. There are a few common red flags that might suggest something isn’t right with a wire request or instructions:

  • Did you get an email changing the wire instructions on short notice?
  • Did an email from an executive have a sense of urgency? Consider – is that executive even in the office?
  • Who is supposed to receive the wire? What is the business or account name? Does it seem to simply be an individual person, rather than a company? Or a company name that is unfamiliar?
  • Does the company name and the address listed on the instructions make sense? Do a quick internet search to see if the company name and address match up.
  • Does the address of the financial institution that is receiving the wire make sense? Is that financial institution in the same region as the company you’re sending the wire to?

Best Practices

One of the best ways to prevent wire fraud is to have a system in place for requesting and confirming a wire transfer. Some steps we’d recommend include:

  • Call the requestor to confirm with a number you have on file or acquired on your own – do not use the phone number provided in an email.
  • Dual Control – designate two people in your organization to authorize transfer requests. This provides a second layer of scrutiny and necessary communication regarding fund transfers.

“Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call to confirm wire details,” Nancy emphasized, “It’s so much better to be sure than to lose a large sum of money. We’ll always keep an eye out on our end.”

While wires remain one of the riskiest ways to send money, your other business transactions don’t have to be. With certain cash management services such as Positive Pay and ACH Blocks and Filters, you’re able to automate part of your security processes. If you’d like to discuss how these services could benefit you, reach out to one of our Cash Management Team members.