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How to Spot Fake Bills

Have you noticed a dramatic increase in false bills hitting your inbox? We certainly have! They're on the rise and targeting small businesses like never before. We've put together some great tips on how to spot them and avoid being scammed into paying them.

First of all, if you've already fallen victim, don't be too hard on yourself. They're super sophisticated systems of fraud that have tricked unsuspecting users out of over $5m in the last 3 years alone.

Knowing a fake bill from a real one can be a challenge and sometimes seemingly impossible. The links created often send the user to a fake website looking identical to the real one, where they easily steal your login and credit card details. Opening attachments can also release malicious viruses and malware.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

Know your account numbers. This means both your account number with your supplier and if you pay by direct deposit, their bank account numbers too. It helps to use a bookkeeping software which can store these numbers for you to check readily. If the numbers don't match, call the supplier to verify their payment details. If your account number is missing from the bill or is wrong, that's a red flag straight up! Take note too of the email address it was sent to - is it the same address your bills are usually sent to? If not, there's that red flag again.

Create a financial procedure and stick to it. If it's a business with more than one admin person, set up a chain of approval so more than one set of eyes checks the bills. If it's just you, make a small checklist to follow before actually paying. Follow your instincts, if you thought the bill came sooner than usual or you just paid it, chances are it's probably a scam. Pick up the phone or send your supplier an email if you need to make sure.

Avoid clicking 'pay now' or 'view invoice' links in the email. Although they're convenient and time-saving, they may not be worth the risk. It is better to go directly to supplier websites via your browser just to be safe (the link should take you there anyway so that extra step is peace of mind). Also be mindful of the sender's email address and web address. If these look strange and don't align with what would be expected, then it's likely from a scammer (although even 'from' addresses and URL's can be copycats).

If you suspect a web page is a scam, try testing a dodgy login user and password. If it lets you straight in, you know it's not real.

Make sure you have trusted and current antivirus and internet security software installed. If you have the update option to happen automatically, activate that too. Software companies are constantly crawling the web for new threats and update their systems regularly to combat them, so it helps to keep up with these updates.

Did you know the ACCC has a dedicated scamwatch page on false billing? Click here for more information.

If you're not big on bookkeeping (I hear you sighing with boredom), then consider using the services of a professional bookkeeping contractor. You may find bookkeeping fixed-fee packages are a lot cheaper than you think! Even if you only need someone at the end of each month or quarter - they may be an invaluable asset to your business and will often greatly reduce your tax agent bills as well.

If you'd like some more information or assistance with virtual bookkeeping and accounting services, contact Money Monarch today or make a booking on our website.

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