7 Easy Steps To Safeguarding Your Business Against The Fake Invoice Fraud

Not only has COVID-19 impacted the health and economy of the world, but it has also forced criminals to resort to the only possible method of carrying out their malpractices during the lockdown, through cybercrime. 

Lately, businesses are popular targets for invoice frauds. Cybercriminals hack into financial accounts of organizations and send fake invoices to their unsuspecting clients and / or unwarranted notices of change of bank account information. Businesses that process payments for such fake invoices or to the new account without due diligence find themselves out of pocket for tens of thousands of dollars.

By the time you realize that you have paid out to a scam instead of a genuine invoice, it is already too late and there is very little you can do about it. So how can you protect your business from falling prey to such malpractices.

We have enlisted 7 steps you can undertake today and incorporate in your accounting policies and procedures to protect your business from fake invoice fraud. Let’s get started:

1) Due diligence to ensure the invoice received is from a trusted source

Let’s start with the presumption that every invoice may be a fake or a scam. More often than not, an invoice looks genuine at first glance, but when you enter the details  in the accounting system, you don’t get a perfect match for suppliers already in your database. This should raise a red flag.

So, if you receive a new invoice from a new vendor / service provider, consult with the right managers to verify whether they have procured any services from this specific supplier or not. You should verify the nature of product or service received, the dates and the payment amount and terms agreed. If the details fail to match, it needs further investigation to ensure it is not a scam. 

Remember: The primary purpose of an invoice is to reflect the genuine service or products provided by a vendor during a specific period. It must contain verifiable details of the nature and dates of service / product delivery and relevant departments or managers details. You can never control who can send you invoices, but what you can do, is verify the details of the account before entering it into the system and before payment is processed.

2) Compare new invoices with old ones

Look up info of past invoices from the same vendor in your database and cross-examine the new invoice received to see if the details match. It should be a cause of concern if you find differences in any of the following:

1) The spelling of the vendor’s name

2) The address that is mentioned

3) The banking information that is mentioned

4) The method used to request the payment

Verify the changes personally with the vendor directly or with their Accounts Receivable person on a quick call and also for record request a written confirmation in email for record.

3) Analyze Current Suppliers

Cross-examine your list of current suppliers in detail. Check if any of the company’s names, addresses, bank details, and invoice amount stand out or are not familiar, and request contact info (telephone and email) of the supplier’s AR person ASAP. 

4) Two-Step Verification of payments

Try to limit the number of employees who are authorized to process invoices and make payments on behalf of your business. Having two trustworthy and reliable employees having access to the company’s accounts and financials, each having a different type of access; one to initiate the transaction and the second to verify and approve it. Ensuring that the person who is issuing the payment should not be able to authorize it. Consider requiring both parties to sign off on the payment transfer, rather than just one. This makes your business more secure and reduces the risk of fraud and cash heist.

Regardless of how much you trust the person in charge of the finances, you must have personal oversight or consider outsourcing it to a professional and dependable service provider.

5) Inform the vendor once the payment is made

Once you process a payment, always make sure to send the supplier an email detailing:

1) Which invoice you’ve paid

2) How much you’ve paid

3) Date and time of the transaction

This is not just courteous to inform them to expect payment but also a good business practice and helps build strong vendor relationships. It also helps catch any fraudulent payments made accidently much quicker.

6) Limit the Info You Publish About Your Suppliers

Ask yourself, is it really necessary to showcase to the world who you’re doing business with? When you’re advertising your suppliers’ info on your website or other channels, you’re making it easier for invoice scammers to track them down and probe into their accounts. Consider limiting the amount of info that is viewable by the public and keep sensitive info private.

7) Manage Your Invoices Through A Professional Service

Whereas the methodologies mentioned above will significantly help you in combating invoice fraud, ultimately, if you want to stay ahead of these cybercriminals, you always have to watch out for new ways they keep inventing to rip off unsuspecting people.

Or better still,  you can save yourself a lot of headache by ensuring that your business’ finances are being managed by people who are professional, qualified and reliable . If you send and receive your invoices through proper service providers such as Monily, not only will you be automatically securing all your invoices, but also be able to pre-approve the people you make payments to. Therefore, making sure that not a single dollar will be spent on your behalf if you haven’t approved and signed it off yourself. 

See Also: How to Find the Right Bookkeeper for Your Business

What To Do If You’ve Accidentally Paid An Invoice Fraud

To err is human. Some realizations may come late, but you can still be thankful they came anyway. If you’ve accidentally made the payment to an invoice fraud, you can try to reverse or cancel the transaction by contacting your bank or credit card provider through which you transferred the funds ASAP. Tell them it was a fraudulent transfer and request them to reverse the payment. The sooner you will contact them, the more chances you have of recovering your stolen money. However unfortunately it doesn’t always work. Different bank and account types have different policies and the business development liaison from your financial institution may be able to give you more details.

If this somehow fails and you’re not able to get your money back, submit a report containing the details of the encounter to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and request their help.

How This Scam Convinced Even Google and Facebook

Scamming businesses through invoice fraud is just the tip of the iceberg of how deep the rabbit hole of cybercrime goes. In 2019, an online scammer admitted that he tried to steal over $100 million from Facebook and Google by merely emailing the tech giants and asking for it. Upon being caught, the perpetrator revealed that he sent fake invoices to Facebook and Google to wire him the money between 2013 and 2015.

This Facebook and Google fraud is a glaring example of how even the most trusted and technologically reinforced companies can be exploited through illegitimately generated invoices.

Incorporate our 7 tested and tried strategies in your AP policies and procedures to safeguard your hard-earned cash. Stay safe and if you need help reach out to us for professional consult and sound advice.

How Technology Will Dynamically Impact The Future of Accounting

Technology has aggressively changed the world around us and is predicted to impact the future of accounting. Businesses are able to understand their target market with a greater ease and at pennies on the dollar. Giant tech corporations have made the most out of understanding, accumulating and establishing a highly intimate connection with the general public. In broader terms making the world a lot smaller than it used be, simultaneously opening up new horizons for scalability of small businesses.

Even though technology has made it easier for humans to coexist and build a stronger more united world, there are adverse effects of it as well. However, that is only relevant for those that let time slip away and are not able to adapt at the rate that technology brings about innovations and rejuvenates how everyday functions are performed.

There are extensive lists of professions that have been determined to be in the danger zone due to technological advancements and progressions towards independent and self-aware artificially intelligent (AI) systems. A way out does exist, which is to adapt to the changes and be a head of the game by keeping up to date and utilizing advancements to one’s own gain, professionally.

Here are some predictions on the future of accounting.

Cloud Accounting vs Local CPAs

We have discussed about this in earlier blogs as well, where local CPAs were compared with cloud-based computing. The future of accounting is all but cloud. The life of a hard drive is very limited, since all communications and important data is starting to get stored away in a remote system. This will enable the transformation and sharing of data at a much faster and more logistical way.

Small businesses rely heavily on small margins of profits; being a small business owner yourself, you would know this better. Every penny that is not being spent towards any unnecessary expenses can mean enhanced profits. Accountants are an integral part of your business; its well-being and structuration depend on them. However, local accountants can be extremely pricey especially accountants in the Houston, Texas area. The point in having cloud-based accounting systems in place is to reduce the overall expenses on this core business function, improving on the quality of management, and control that you as a small business owner need.

Corporations such as Monily, handle taxes and bookkeeping at extremely affordable rates all the while helping you focus more on your savings and business’s expenses on a reoccurring base at a quarter of the rate at which you would get a single accountant.

See Also: Local CPA VS Cloud Bookkeeping

For accountants this means that they need to move up from providing just financial advisory services to small businesses, to providing cloud-based solutions that would help their client base save up on accounting expenses and cater to more clients through the integration of technology.

Clients are becoming more service oriented

Every service including accounting is utilized or employed for the ease of individuals or businesses as well as the experience they bring about with them. Yesterday’s customers knew less about customer experience and depended more on less saturated markets to fulfill their needs of service consumptions. Today’s clients, however, have a huge variety of options to choose from and logically the better the experience a client gets the greater the chances of them are to stick to where their experience is enhanced.

So is the case within the accounting industry, earlier clients were bound to their accountants or local firms due to the need of being physically present and connected to the people that were managing their books. Now, every single piece of data, no matter how valuable it may be are present on clouds and the internet and can be sent back and forth from any corner of the world. Meaning, that accountant manage their relationships with their client and how they structure the client’s journey through the service delivery life cycle has become imperative.

Strategy based solutions preferred

Just like how Amazon has taken over the world of retail purchasing; by offering an abundance of products under the same roof. Accounting firms need to adapt to the changing market dynamics and the way their clients expect to be served by going above and beyond to deliver every need that they might have under the same roof. Human beings have always-preferred ease rather that discomfort; this brings us to clients expecting more out of what they are paying for.

The optimal use of technology can help accountants perform their tasks at a more cost effective, efficient and more strategized manner. By integrating the systems to optimal working capacity, clients can be helped with understanding their market’s dynamics and financials in a more optimized manner. Which leads to greatly customized and strategic solutions for the betterment, improvement and growth of the small businesses they are working with.

Concluding thoughts

Changes are rapidly happening in all fields around us, the future of accounting is no different through advancements in technology. However, accountants that are quick to adapt to change and connect with their client through the use of smart systems are expected to largely increase their hold of the market.

5 Ways a Bookkeeper Can Save You Money

Money, the world revolves around this small five-syllable word. We might not like to accept it or be proud of it but everything you have done today and will do until you are in bed is about M-O-N-E-Y. In light of this discussion, that money is what matters the most to, of all people are businesspeople and entrepreneurs. Saving up is what drives a business out of the startup phase into a full fledge working business model that elevates returns and escalates growth. 

Does money appear from thin air? Alternatively, the famous parental saying, “money does not grow on trees” is very well understood by all of us by the time we become teenagers. However, in business, there is a way to save money, and that is by having a bookkeeper on board.

Every penny that you do not spend is a penny earned.

This article helps you understand the idea behind creating money from thin air by having an advanced bookkeeping service and answers THAT question: do bookkeeping services save you money?

Manage Your Profits Smoothly

When you run the show, there are a lot of things that you need to look into. Should bookkeeping be one of them? Short answer to that is, no. The longer answer is, would you rather spend a couple of hundred bucks and have someone else take care of your bookkeeping and financial management needs or would you rather, spend countless hours recording your daily transactions and tracking dollars rather than focusing your attention in making more of them.

Every startup works on a very tight profit margin, and even a single dime can make a lot of difference at times, which is why businesses choose to save money on bookkeeping. When you have a professional CPA working for you, keeping track of where you are spending and how much of it is going. In turn by saving off from errors and by spending your time where it matters you can make more money from your business.

Divert Your Attention

Tax time! That freaked you out didn’t it? Yeah, happens, research has shown that the only thing business owners and entrepreneurs loath is taxation. Filling out all that paperwork, cross checking with your accounts and financials, what to write off as deductible and what not, is hectic. However, not when you have a professional who lives and breathes taxation laws and bookkeeping helping you through such tough waters.

The stress you go through when preparing for taxes can take a toll on your business’s other functions as well, hence keeping you from saving money on bookkeeping, accounting and tax filing.

Focus on What You Are Good At, While Saving Money on Bookkeeping

Why complicate your life even more, let a pro handle it. Unless you are a bookkeeper yourself, you should really consider staying out of the mess numbers can create. There are many moving parts in every business, no matter its size and so there are a lot of other areas that you can focus and include your expertise in. One of the more pressing reasons why a bookkeeper would save you money is if you don’t have to go through analyzing all the minute details that money management brings with it. Accountants specialize in taxations and bookkeeping, let them handle the troubles. Spend the time on more productive activities such as bringing in more clients or improving on your products and services. Do not lose sight of the reason you started this business in the first place amidst all the numbers and calculations.

Timely Payments

The first of the month, or whenever you close your payroll is probably the happiest day at work for all of you employees, but getting, managing the accounts and closing them on time is no child play. Your daily activities are only possible because your bills are all cleared. When you forget to pay a bill or forgot to divide the funds to get them paid things can take a turn for the worst.  

Guess what happens when you have an accountant. You do not miss a deadline, ever, nor do you ever lack the funds to clear the bills piling up. Couple that with you saving money on bookkeeping. Your accountant makes sure your bills are paid on time and so are your employees by managing your payroll and accounts as well as keeping your books in pristine condition. 

Error Free Filing

Miss representation can lead to dire circumstances, such as having to pay an absurd late fee just because you missed a few digits on what you owe to the IRS. Having a bookkeeping service through virtual bookkeepers such as Monily, that give you an entire team of fully equipped professional accountants. Save money by filling correctly when you get a bookkeeper.

See Also: How to Find the Right Bookkeeper for Your Business

Conclusion

It is understood that you need to be in everything that is related to your business; after all, it is your baby. You conceived it and earn through it to sustain yourself, it is also something that has all of your hopes and desires mumbled in together. Is it necessary to get into things that can create more of a mess than sort things out for you? Let a professional handle your books, while you save money on bookkeeping and focus your energy in making more of that green stuff appear.