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Keeping Ahead of Invoice Fraudsters

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Wily scammers are impersonating suppliers and sending UK businesses phoney invoices—and many companies are unwittingly paying. SMEs are particularly vulnerable to the scam, with some inadvertently sending tens of thousands of pounds to criminals, while legitimate vendors remain unpaid.

Fraudsters are clever about gathering information about both your company and your suppliers to successfully pull off the ruse, often hacking email accounts, posing as company representatives and intercepting post. But you and your staff can be smarter and ensure all the invoices you pay are legitimate.

Here’s how to protect yourself from this insidious type of fraud.

  1. Always check new invoices: When you receive an invoice from a new vendor, contact the company to make sure it’s legitimate and all the account details are correct. Use a number in your company files, not that stated on the invoice, and don’t accept an email or text as sufficient proof.
  2. Train staff to detect fake invoices: Teach staff responsible for paying invoices to scrutinise every bill that comes across their desks. Compare logos, account details, telephone numbers and email addresses to those on invoices you know to be genuine. Encourage staff to get second opinions if they’re unsure and to take particular care of large invoices.
  3. Contact suppliers before paying large invoices: When handling large payments, contact the supplier directly, using a number in your files, to confirm the invoice is legitimate and the account details you have are correct. 
  4. Revaluate the information your business shares on its website: This can be harvested by scammers posing as your suppliers.
  5. Secure your systems: Make sure your computer and email systems are secured and their antivirus software is up to date.
  6. Don’t leave invoices unattended: Don’t leave invoices and other sensitive information unattended in your office or on your desk. These can be swiped by dishonest employees or other visitors to your workplace. 

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