Fraud is a very real threat to UK businesses. Only last week an acquaintance of mine was subjected to a sophisticated invoice fraud racket, where his customers were asked to pay funds into another account. It was only when spotted by an eagle-eyed customer, who was asked to pay a further deposit, that they realised that it was out of character and much therefore be a fraudulent request.
According to figures published by UK Finance in 2018, fraudsters stole almost £93m from UK firms through this type of invoice scam.
In a recent report by UK Finance (Business Payments Report) suggests that 43 per cent of businesses were unaware of the existence of invoice fraud! Based on a survey of 1,500 businesses across the UK, the report found that awareness of this type of scam tends to rise as the size of the business increases. Only 55 per cent of sole traders were aware of the threat of invoice fraud compared to 84 per cent of large businesses.
However, despite that fact an increase in size of business generally correlates to a higher number of invoices and therefore increased chance of receiving a fraudulent invoice, based on these statistics over 1200 registered large companies in the UK are vulnerable to invoice fraud! (16% of the 7,700 large businesses registered in the UK with excess of 250 employees)
There are many ways to help protect yourself and minimise the risks of invoice fraud for your business, here are a few top tips:
Invoice Activity Tracking
If a supplier suddenly significantly increases the number of invoices being sent from one month to another, this could be a sign that something may not be quite right, so it’s best to get in touch and double check that the invoices are genuine.
Build Relationships with Your Suppliers
Building a relationship with a single point of contact or knowing your contacts can provide a certain amount of confidence so if a request is made that differs from the usual pattern, it may get red flagged.
Make sure all staff are aware of invoice fraud and fully trained in accordance with your compliance requirements, particularly those that are responsible for making or receiving payments.
Verify new payment or amended instructions
Use details from a company’s official website and documentation to verify new payment or amended payment instructions and not from the new instructions, as fraudsters can account email accounts and produce spoof emails. It is generally advised to call your contact directly to check any changes are indeed correct.
Consider using Invoice Fraud Protection software
Invoice fraud protection software can automatically flag suspected fraudulent invoices before they are paid and verify the invoice against existing patterns of behaviour to offer greater protection against inbound invoice fraud. It also removes the time-consuming, manual and somewhat intuitive response to approving invoices saving your team valuable time and any doubt over identification.
How can Embridge help you to combat Invoice Fraud…
Embridge Consulting’s unique software is the only option in the market to identify fraud as it arrives, before it enters your business ERP or FMS system and most importantly, before it is processed and paid. Read on for more information.
With Invoice Fraud Protection, all invoices that enter your business are checked at line level, critically analysed against known authentic invoices and then checked for fraud indicators. If fraud is detected, the invoice is quarantined for investigation to be either deleted, forwarded to a specific email address or any other bespoke action your business requires.
Our software puts your business in control of managing invoice fraud rather than the ambiguity of potential fraud or clawing back funds from invalid invoices that have been already paid.
Unlike other fraud detection software, our solution identifies fraud before it enters your business software and because it extracts the data directly from the invoice before being processed, it is not dependent on templates or error-prone image-based comparisons. Our software looks for invoice data wherever it is on the page and identifies abnormalities as well as other known identifiers that could indicate fraud.
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