Incorrect Invoices Delay Payment

Strata communities can reduce the risk of payments being delayed or becoming victims of invoice fraud by insisting service providers adhere to best business practice.

SSKB’s Client Financials team processes hundreds of invoices for clients each week and occasionally our accountants will have to return invoices that are incorrectly produced and this results payment delays.

The most frequent errors seen by our team are:

  • The invoice isn’t in the right format – the document doesn’t say Tax Invoice or it doesn’t have an ABN
  • The invoice is in an editable format such as Word or Excel and not received as a PDF

According to the Australian Consumer & Competition Commission (ACCC), e-mail was the preferred method for scammers with e-mail with 71% of fraudulent invoices received this way in August this year.

Even major entities can be caught out in invoice fraud.

In July, Brisbane City Council announced that $450,000 had been lost to scammers through phoney invoices with that money unlikely to be recouped.

The council called in Deloitte to investigate policy and procedures. The company says all organisations can take simple steps to avoid fraud relating to invoices.

False invoicing frauds are not particularly sophisticated but it is difficult to keep them going for a long period of time without detection. When an employee creates a false invoice (as opposed to re-submitting a legitimate invoice), many ‘red flags’ may be present, such as:

  • The company name listed on the invoice is not a registered company;
  • No physical address is listed (do not solely rely on email addresses);
  • The contact information listed on the invoice may not be legitimate. i.e. the PO Box number or telephone number might not actually exist;
  • Incorrect/invalid dates may be present, such as 31 February 2013 for example;
  • Invalid GST numbers or incorrectly formatted GST numbers;
  • The GST value on the invoice may be incorrectly calculated;
  • Often a very brief description is listed that is insufficient to adequately detail the goods or services being invoiced, such as “services as requested” or “supply goods as requested”;
  • Casual or sloppy grammar, spelling mistakes etc;
  • No tax invoice details;
  • No remittance details; and
  • The invoice is created using Microsoft Word or Excel.

Whilst SSKB have always returned creditors invoices which are not formatted to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) specifications, to further protect our communities, SSKB have now strengthened their policy to return all creditor invoices which are received as Word or Excel files.

Understandably, we acknowledge that initially this may cause frustration and potential delays with creditors, however in this ever emerging age of technology and scammers looking for opportunities to fraudulently obtain funds, we must stay ahead of the game. In this regard, we appreciate your support and affirmation with creditors who may contact you directly.

SSKB is committed to providing outstanding service and StrataSure is our principles of business that drive our people, systems and processes to give assurance to our clients that every detail matters.

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