Friday, August 3, 2012

Be Wary of Fake Invoice Scams

WVLS has had a few calls in recent days from "Customer Service" letting us know that they are our toner supplier and that they need the model number off of our printer or copier. Well I've heard this question before so I just ask them "What's the name of your company?" ... click ... and that ends it. Call over, scam avoided.

Wait what? Scam? What?

So yeah. The above call describes a practice used in which an organization, group of people, or even just an individual will call a company, ask for some information that would help them craft a fake invoice, and then, well, craft a fake invoice and send it to you. The hope is that maybe some small percentage of organizations that receive these fake invoices actually pay them, without understanding what happened.

When you're managing IT at all but the most gigantuan companies, you may typically work with a concise group of vendors, and it can seem easy to know what you have, where you get it from, what it should cost, and who you should pay for it for just about everything within your purview. After all, the technology used to keep track of that info is, well, technology and we are, well, technology people.

That's not to say we know everything (we're working on it)but, it can therefore also seem easy to identify scams and rogue agents trying to elicit your business in a shady fashion. It helps to have experienced it multiple times before. We're also super paranoid about people hacking our systems, stealing our info, and making us look bad. If there's anything IT people hate more than haggis, it's being made to look bad.

What about when you're not in IT, or not familiar with every single service provider and every single cost item your department or organization deals with, or not familiar with invoicing scams through past experience in dealing with the methodology?

Well hopefully you are acquainted with wonderful and smart technology professionals, or other trade professionals such as financial services personnel who want to get the word out, and have access to creating content on a fairly well read blog. You are? Great!

What can you do?
  1. Be wary - Question all "vendors" soliciting information. Ask for their info so you can have time to validate their request and get back to them.
  2. Be vigilant - Review and audit all invoices. This may be verifying quantities received or verifying the invoice is genuine period.
  3. Be proactive - Did you catch a scam before it caught you? Did you get caught? Let the rest of your peers know either way to help prevent others from this fate.

Think you have a scam on your hands or have been hit by one recently? Give me a holler.

Good luck out there!

Joshua Klingbeil

1 comment:

  1. I just received a call from "my" toner supplier not 10 minutes before reading this blog entry. This scam has been going on for many years. I got a similar call on my first job fresh out of college. (No, I'm not going to say how many years ago. A few.) I could hear bar noises (chatter, glasses clinking, pool balls thumping around) in the background so even as a newbie in the professional world I wasn't fooled.