Businesses in Bath have been warned to be vigilant when paying invoices following a rise in invoicing scams over the past two years. IP specialist Forresters is working with companies in the region to help them avoid being caught out by fraud, and firms across the rest of Britain should be equally cautious. Here’s what you can do to protect your firm’s finances.
The nature of today’s business environment means most of us work to busy schedules, and when it comes to paying off debtors, there’s often a temptation to settle invoices quickly. However, it pays to take your time and properly examine an invoice before funds are sent, particularly if you cannot recall ordering the product or service. Many scam invoices will be convincing, and could appear to come from a company you have dealt with in the past. Check invoices against purchase orders in the first instance to establish whether someone else inside the firm placed an order. If not, you can be confident the bill is illegitimate.
Scammers will want to avoid being caught out, and will do all they can to make it difficult to contact them. Look for telephone details and email addresses, as a lack of either is often a sign that the invoice is not genuine. Similarly, always check the small print to understand the full terms of payment. A common tactic is to disguise an advertisement for a product or service as a bill, in the hope that businesses will be too busy or disorganised to properly check its validity. Only in the small print will the mailing’s true purpose be found.
As cautious as you are when it comes to invoice fraud, it’s important the staff around you are equally vigilant. Ensure those in the accounts department who typically handle invoices are aware of the threat faced, and that checking for fraudulent invoices is a part of risk management practices. It would also be worthwhile to limit the responsibility of paying bills to one or two members, to make sure there’s proper control of the process. Should you come across a bill you believe to be a scam, keep it and contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
Fraud is an ever-present threat for businesses, and mitigating risk can begin today with attentive team members taking a careful approach to invoice processing.
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