Invoice fraud involves the assertion of a right to payment from another person or business for unsolicited goods. The operators of these frauds cleverly disguise their approach as a legitimate business offering advertising in journals and publications using high pressure selling and telemarketing techniques.
The operators are professional and will either endeavour to get a business to advertise in a bogus publication or directory or engage in enough discussion for the operator to infer that the business did in fact order the advertising. In many cases the legitimate business will decline the offer but still receive an invoice in the mail for payment. Often these documents are not invoices but an ‘offer to purchase’ that is cleverly altered to represent an invoice whilst still avoiding the risk of asserting payment.
The following simple measures will assist in minimising your businesses chance of being affected by invoice fraud:
- Be conscious that there are unscrupulous operators who operate in this way and will ring, e-mail and fax solicitations to your business.
- Maintain good accounting records and allow yourself time to check all invoices thoroughly.
- If possible, authorise only one person in your business to place magazine advertising
- Conduct all negotiations for advertising within magazines in writing.
- Require sighting of any proof copy of the proposed advertising before giving approvals to publish.
- Check with the charity, association, or alleged organization on whose behalf it is said to be published, as a number of telesales staff represent that they are ringing on behalf of some organization or department when in fact they are not.
- Require full identification of the individuals or organisation the journal or directory, which is seeking your advertising support.
- Do not give any person you talk to over the phone, an order number such as a date of birth or other personal identification number, as this number will be quoted back to you at a later time to assert that this number or name etc, is the authority by which the invoice was sent to you
- Never place your signature on a document that you send to these operators as it can be digitally scanned and then downloaded onto an invoice document in the space reserved for “authorisations” and sent back to you as proof that you have in fact authorised the advertising.
- If you are going to have an electronic signature on your business web site, make it a signature which is different from your normal signature, as web signatures can also be downloaded and placed on Invoice documents. In this way you will know that the signature has come from the web and is not your normal signature you would use for authorising things.