Fake invoice scams are on the rise, and we are seeing multiple attempts from hackers trying new tricks. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from these attacks:
- Be vigilant – The scammers are getting better at faking invoices, but there are still red flags to watch out for when a questionable invoice arrives:
- Misspellings and poor grammar
- The vendor pushes for immediate payment
- The vendor is requesting a wire transfer
- Older/wrong version of the vendor logo on the invoice
- Use strong passwords and change them frequently – The latest password guidance advises users to create longer passphrases rather than shorter passwords. Change them frequently (every 90 days is standard) to reduce your risk of being hacked.
- Review outgoing checks – Before you sign that check from your office administrator, take a moment and research the source of the invoice. Make sure the invoice is for a product or service you purchased.
- Contact the vendor – The contact information on the invoice or the email may look legitimate but don’t be so sure. Search online for the vendor’s contact information and call the vendor to verify any new invoices that seem suspicious.
- Avoid wire transfers – Most vendors will not request a wire transfer as payment on an invoice, especially ones you have an established relationship with. If you receive a request for a wire transfer, call the vendor (using a phone number you found on an independent source) and confirm the invoice is legitimate. If you have office staff responsible for paying invoices, require them to ask for your verbal verification on any wire transfers as one last safeguard. Once the funds go out via wire transfer, they are gone, and many times are untraceable.
- Work with an accountant – Allowing a professional to handle your bill pay needs gives you an extra layer of defense when it comes to invoicing fraud. Services like Mize Enhanced Bill Pay secure a direct line of payment between you and your vendor.
Oh no! What do I do if I’ve already sent in a payment on a fake invoice?
The bad guys have become experts at faking invoices and many times the check clears the bank before the check writer realizes what’s happened. If you find yourself in this situation, contact your bank immediately to stop the payment. If more than 24 hours have passed, your bank will help you work with your insurance agent to recover your loss.
Fake invoices are not going away any time soon. Be sure to stay vigilant and train anyone in your business that handles bill payment to keep an eye out for fraud. Taking a few minutes to review your invoices thoroughly could save you thousands of dollars.