Criminals are constantly finding new and sophisticated ways to scam your business out of money. The latest threat comes in the form of scammers posing as reputable suppliers and asking for payee bank details to be altered.

According to UK Finance, businesses in the UK lost £93m to invoice fraud last year, with an average payment of £20,750 going to fraudsters’ bank accounts. Surprisingly, over 43% of businesses aren’t aware of this issue and it appears that the smaller the size of the business, the less awareness there is. The reality is that invoice fraud is a threat to businesses of any size and criminals will not discriminate, so make sure that you know the warning signs so as to not fall victim to this criminal activity.

When anyone asks for bank details to be changed, be it suppliers or clients, this should always be managed with extreme caution. Make sure that you have identity checks in place to validate the authenticity of the request.

When a fraudster contacts you, they will often push you to make a payment as a matter of urgency and may potentially threaten you with police arrest or suing you; do not fall for this trick! Take your time and ask relevant questions to ascertain whether or not the request is genuine or fraudulent.

To make their contact appear to be genuine, criminals will often have methods of finding out when payments are usually due from you to a particular supplier and make their contact around this date.

Avoiding Invoice Fraud

Here are some top tips to help you avoid becoming the victim of fraud:

1. Listen To Your Instincts

Most importantly, listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t seem to be genuine, it is most likely right to question it. Have confidence in refusing unexpected requests for information or payment so that you stay in control of the situation.

2. Call Your Trusted Contact

Whenever contact is made about amending bank details, always call your trusted contact at the organisation in question to verbally confirm any changes which are wished to be made.

3. Never Reply To Suspicious Messages

Never reply directly to an email or text which you believe to be fraudulent. Use the contact details which you usually use to interact with that organisation instead or go onto their website and find genuine details there.

4. Know Your Procedures

Make sure that you have a clear procedure in your business for making payments e.g. a chain of command with one person being responsible for payments and another to agree the payment.

5. Be Aware

Make all of your staff aware of the dangers of these scams and how they occur so that no one gets caught off-guard.

6. Look Out For Red Flags

A genuine organisation will never contact you to ask for your PIN, password or to move money to a different account; treat this request as an immediate red flag and end the conversation.

7. Don’t Act On Suspicious Links

Never click on a link in an unexpected email or text. It’s easy for email addresses to be created to appear genuine with a different spelling of a word or name in the address.

8. Don’t Rush Your Decision Making Process

Don’t rush into making any payments or decisions. A genuine organisation will not make you pay on the spot, they will not mind waiting a few moments for you to carry out security checks.

 

Some other useful links for advice about avoiding fraud are listed below:

https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/

https://northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/fraud/protecting-business-fraud/