FRAUD ALERT: Law firm directory/office supplies invoices scam attempts
We’ve received numerous reports over the years from lawyers who have dealt with threatening phone calls from bogus law firm directories who have demanded payment for fake invoices, or risk going to collections. Always ensure that you and your staff confirm who they are dealing with before paying any invoice, and closely monitor your financial statements.
As some lawyers use to advertising to help them reach more clients, they often receive renewal notices from advertising companies to ensure that their listing is saved. Bogus online directories will exploit these types of renewal notices in an attempt to get lawyers to pay invoices for advertising they never ordered, and pay for a listing that never existed. Another version of this scam involves lawyers who unexpectedly receive a shipment of office supplies. In both cases, the lawyer (or their staff) is told that if they don’t pay immediately, their file will be referred to collections. When the lawyer’s office requests copies of previous invoices or proof of contracts, the scammer will often repeat the threat or simply hangs up.
Take the following steps to protect your office from these invoice payment scams:
- Train your staff to spot scams. Educate your employees about how this and other scams work. In addition to your regular administrative staff, talk to everyone who may answer phones. Mention it in staff meetings and put it up on bulletin boards.
- Inspect all invoices. It sounds simple, but the best way to protect yourself from invoice fraud is to keep track of what you are paying for at all times and when those invoices are due. Ensure that those in your office with purchasing authority have all sales inquiries and invoices sent through them. Create a list of the companies you normally use for supplies, advertising, support, etc so your staff knows who they should be dealing with.
- Verify the directory/supplier. Immediately send a certified / registered letter to the distributor requesting proof of order. Advise them that you are not accepting nor paying for the products and want them removed at their expense. You may also choose to contact the Better Business Bureau to determine if the company has a history of complaints.
For tips to avoid being victimized, read a list of "Red Flags”, and visit the Fraud section on lians.ca. To report or seek advice on dealing with fraud and scam attempts, contact Cynthia Nield at firstname.lastname@example.org or 902 423 1300, x346.