Invoice Processing Insights: Protect Your Company’s Reputation

CalendarOctober 4, 2023

Invoice Processing Insights: Protect Your Company’s Reputation

Given the significant impact invoice payment processing has on a business’s cash flow, vendor relationships, and reputation, it’s crucial to reevaluate and enhance accounts payable (AP) processes to improve visibility and prevent fraud. Learning about the vulnerabilities that stem from invoice payments will help you take proactive measures to safeguard your business and mitigate these threats effectively. 

Billing Schemes Are Among the Most Common Types of Fraud

According to a 2022 report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), organizations lose 5% of their revenue to fraud each year.

Invoice fraud occurs when a business knowingly sends an invoice that is fake, duplicated, or artificially overpriced. These schemes come in many variations, and trends are always changing, making them difficult for even seasoned professionals to detect.

In fact, invoice fraud isn't always an external threat. It can originate from third parties, internal sources, or a combination of internal and external parties acting as accomplices.

The ACFE report also found that:

  • Asset misappropriation, most frequently perpetrated through billing schemes, accounts for 86% of all occupational fraud 

  • Bad actors are also increasingly likely to collaborate, with 58% of perpetrators working in groups 

Manual, paper-based processes create circumstances where these types of crimes are easy to conceal. Billing and invoice schemes often rely on falsified documents that can easily deceive human processors, especially when dealing with a high volume of physical and electronic records spread across multiple departments.

Decentralized invoice management leads to a lack of visibility, making it more difficult to detect fraudulent activities or problematic payments and approvals. Consequently, fraud is more likely to go undetected in these environments.

Invoice Payment Problems Hurt Vendor Relationships

Fraudulent activities, such as invoice manipulation and unauthorized purchases, can result in financial losses and damage a company's reputation. Even without malicious intent, inconsistent terms and payment delays strain supplier relationships and erode trust.  

By extension, invoice payment problems can disrupt the supply chain and hinder a company’s ability to maintain quality standards, meet customer expectations, or achieve favorable profit margins. 

Cash Flow Issues

Invoice payment problems can also cause missed opportunities to secure the best prices and favorable payment terms from suppliers. When relationships are strained, suppliers may prioritize other clients or increase prices. Additionally, inefficient communication within AP departments hinders your ability to negotiate favorable terms.

Invoice payment problems can also manifest as overpayments due to errors. Additionally, unauthorized purchases made on behalf of the enterprise can go unnoticed, resulting in unchecked, unnecessary expenses. 

How Companies Protect Themselves

To mitigate the risks associated with invoice fraud, reputational damage, and cash flow issues, companies can employ three key methods:

Anti-Fraud Measures

Implement strict authorization protocols, conduct regular internal audits, and deploy automated fraud detection safeguards. Enhanced security measures, real-time fraud detection, vendor and payment validation, and maintaining a comprehensive audit trail can all contribute to protecting against both internal and external fraud schemes.

Automation and Invoice Matching

Automating manual processes in the AP workflow can reduce the risk of human error and enhance fraud detection. Technologies such as automated invoice matching and intelligent data extraction streamline payment processes, improve invoice accuracy, and minimize the potential for manipulation.

Alternative Banking Solutions

Digital banking platforms offer enhanced AP security measures that aren’t available through traditional banks. For example, to pay invoices electronically, enabling vendors for ACH (or ideally, virtual card acceptance) becomes necessary. But if ACH processes are conducted with traditional banks, the business assumes the associated risk. Convincing vendors to accept card or ACH payments can be challenging. Unlike traditional banks or fintech companies, Corpay can enroll vendors at scale, and customers can plug right in. 

Boost Fraud Safety Through Invoice Automation

The impact of AP processes on vendor relationships, cash flow, and overall financial performance cannot be overstated. Relying on traditional banks and manual processes can expose enterprises to numerous vulnerabilities.

Want to know more about how digital banking platforms can safeguard your business against fraud, prevent overpayments, and improve supplier relationships? Contact our in-house experts at Corpay today to start customizing a solution that fits your unique needs.