Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Payment scam warning

Companies are being warned to be on their guard against a new overpayment scam.

Our senior partner Graham Davies said: “The ‘target’ receives a letter with an enclosed cheque which says it is in settlement of an invoice. The scammer then quickly calls up claiming to have made a mistake, and politely requests that you return the money by an online banking transfer.

“And this is where the danger arises. The scammers are hoping that you will return the money before discovering that the cheque they sent to you is fake, and no money is in your account. Typically, this would be for a few thousand pounds, and the scammers often prey on more inexperienced members of staff.”

Graham said: “There are some fairly straightforward processes which companies can put in place to protect themselves from this. Firstly, warn your accounts department and make all refunds subject to the approval of a director, or second senior signatory.

“And secondly, if your company accepts cheques, encourage your accounts team to tick off those received against outstanding invoices, rather than paying them into the bank and reconciling your accounts later.

“In such tough economic times, no-one can afford to lose valuable income so it’s vital that you protect your company finances at all costs. Scammers are becoming increasingly creative in order to come up with new ways to target their victims, and it’s important to try to keep one step ahead of them by putting strict procedures in place.”