By Daniel Hunter

Nearly 286,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have been affected by fraud, losing a total of nearly £8 billion during their time in business, according to new research by global information services company Experian.

Company fraud has more often been associated with corporate espionage, high profile scams and fraudulent activity in large enterprises. However, Experian’s findings show there is an increasing need for UK SMEs to also protect themselves from card, cheque and identity fraud.

More than one in ten (13%) of UK SMEs have been the victim of company fraud. Over a quarter (27%) of SMEs with more than nine employees were the most likely to have fallen victim to fraud, while one in ten (11%) micro businesses (one to nine employees) have been victims of fraud.

Among UK SMEs that have been victims of fraud, the average amount of money lost was £2,627, but for some, the loss of money due to company fraud was much greater:
- 3% lost between £1,001 and £5,000
- 1% lost between £5,001 and £10,000
- 1% of SMEs overall lost £10,001 or more.

The findings are included in Experian’s SME Reputation Index. Investigating the attitudes of over 500 senior decision makers in SMEs across the UK, the Index reveals attitudes towards safeguarding financial reputation.

Ade Potts, Managing Director of Experian’s SME business, said: “Some of the smallest of businesses in the UK are just as likely to become victims of fraud as their larger counterparts. No matter what the size of the loss, whether it is £1,000 or £10,000, an unplanned loss can have a big impact on a small or medium-sized business, both financially and operationally.”

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