The Accounts Payable department is a prime target for fraud. Criminals looking to exploit your business take advantage of AP departments buried in paperwork to submit phony invoices and hope they’ll slip by as legitimate.
A single fraudulent invoice might not impact your company too much. However, over time invoice fraud can become quite a costly problem. Foiling invoice fraud is often frustrating, but implementing these tips will significantly reduce the risk of your company falling victim.
1) Employ 3-Way Matching
If you can match each invoice to a purchase order and receipt of goods, then you’re much less likely to pay a fraudulent invoice. Most fraudsters won’t bother fabricating three separate documents.
2) Watch Invoice Amounts
Amounts on invoices can provide clues that the invoice isn’t on the up-and-up. If your company requires additional review for invoices over $1,000 (for example), checks squeaking by right under that threshold (such as $999.98) should raise suspicion.
3) Keep Up Moral
Invoice fraud can come from inside the company or from an outside source. Happy employees are unlikely to commit fraud and more likely to catch fraud from outside sources. If they don’t have reason to complain, then they’re more likely to care about doing right by the company.
4) Check On Vendors
Fraudulent invoices are typically issued under fake business names or use a legitimate name but a fake address or bank account number. You’ll want to look up any new vendors to make sure they’re legitimate and find the address on Google maps. If the address is residential or a post-office box, that’s a big red-flag. Also, check-in with your existing vendors directly if their account information changes.
5) Track Invoice Activity
If you’re tracking invoice activity, you’ll be able to notice when something changes. For example, one vendor typically submits 5 to 10 invoices a month and suddenly you see 50 from them in a single month. It might be legitimate, but you’ll still want to get in touch with them and double-check.
6) Implement “Fuzzy Matching”
Duplicate payments are one way to commit invoice fraud – fraudsters submit a near-perfect copy of a legitimate invoice and hope no one notices one payment is going to a different account number. Sometimes they’ll also change date, invoice number, or amount. You’ll need a program that allows for “fuzzy matching” to catch near-duplicates as well as identical invoices.
7) Employ Automation
Automation in the AP department gives you the tools you need to more effectively implement all these other tips for preventing fraud. It’s probably the single most important step you can take to stop invoice fraud.
With NextProcess’ AP Automation Software, you instantly get detailed insight into everyday invoice processing. Our software automates invoice processing according to your custom specifications. It can catch many sorts of suspicious invoices on its own and gives you the tools you need to more easily track invoice activity and check on vendor information. On top of that, automation software is easy to use and frees up employees for more interesting work. It’s a win-win for the company and everyone in the AP department.
Additional resources for business accounting tips are available here.