Fake invoice scams happen when a scammer tries to get an individual or business to pay a fake invoice such as a debt collection notice or a general business invoice. This may be for a product or service that has never been requested or received, or it could be for a payment they are expecting to make.
How does it work?
The scammer will send an invoice for goods or services you haven’t requested or received. This could be a printed invoice that looks legitimate, or even an email that looks as it’s come from a legitimate business insisting that you’ve ordered the goods or services. Often these scammers target the office administration or accounts functions of a business and will attempt to intimidate by threatening legal action. They may also request changes be made to the usual billing arrangements.
There are some instances where scammers have hacked systems or emails to intercept information about legitimate payments. The scammers then impersonate the legitimate organisation that the payment is meant to be going to. They will contact the person/organisation that is meant to be making the payment and give fake bank account or payment details. These types of scams can be difficult to detect, so we encourage anyone who is making a large payment to double check with the source that the payment details are correct.
How can you avoid the scam?
- Be on the lookout for invoices for goods or services that you didn’t order or a call from someone claiming to be your regular supplier.
- If you notice a supplier’s usual bank account details have changed, call them to confirm that the invoice is legitimate.
- Make sure you call the supplier using the phone number you have on file, or look it up on their website or in the phone book.
- Don’t call the telephone number on the email or invoice, as this will likely be the scammers phone number.
- If you are making a large payment, double check with the source that you have the correct payment details.
- Always confirm if goods or services have been requested and received before paying an invoice e.g. use a purchase order number system or confirming with employees.
- Limit the number of people in your business who are authorised to make orders or pay invoices.
- Immediately cut contact with scammers who attempt to bully or intimidate you.
- If the bank account looks like it’s an overseas bank account, or you have any suspicions about the payment details sent to you, investigate further.
If you’re unsure if something is a scam or not, call Netsafe for help and advice. Netsafe’s contact centre is open seven days a week.
Report a scam
Help if you have been scammed or think you are about to be scammed: Netsafe can’t open investigations or track scammers, but we can offer support and advice for people who have lost money in a scam, or think they are about to. This includes letting you know the steps you can take depending on the scam you’re in and giving you advice about how to stay safe in future. You can report a scam to www.netsafe.org.nz/report.
Our help service is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on weekends.
- More information on scams
- Quick guide for staying safe online
- Online safety advice for parents
- Online safety advice for businesses