Invoice fraud happens when fraudsters send a fake invoice, or bill, asking you to pay for goods or services that you haven’t used. Usually, they’ll try the following:
- the fraudster takes on the identity of one of your suppliers, business contacts or even a colleague, often by hacking their email system, or by sending you a request by fax or post that seems genuine
- they trick you into changing the bank account details for an outstanding/future payment or a senior colleague may ask you to make a new payment
- the message will usually urge you to pay straightaway to avoid further charges or consequences.
- your money is then paid to the fraudster's bank account.
You'll only know it was fraud when the genuine company sending the invoices chases the payment. By this time, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover your money from the fraudster.
How to spot invoice fraud
The main thing you should look out for, is unusual grammar and spelling mistakes, or requests to change your usual payment details.
If the invoice comes in the post on headed paper, look out for minor discrepancies, such as a change in font or a change in the usual payment details.
Your contacts email address may be altered very slightly to give the impression that it’s correct, but it is in fact fraudulent. Alternatively, you might receive an email directly from someone you’ve dealt with before, but their email account may have been hacked or spoofed.
What you can do to protect yourself
- Always confirm any requests to make a new payment or change bank account details directly with the company or colleague making the change. Avoid replying to the email or using the contact details in the letters.?
- Set up a single point of contact for companies you make regular payments to.
- Review changes of account details that have already gone through where the payment is due at a future date and confirm that the request is genuine.
- Consider extra checks for payments over a certain amount.
- Corporate customers should review their payment approval processes – as mentioned, you can use dual authorisation for an extra layer of security as all payments go through at least two people.
- Call our Fraud Team immediately if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, or even an attempted victim – we’ll be able to set up a case and attempt to recover funds from the recipient bank on your behalf.