Tuesday, 07 October 2014 11:25

'Overdue invoice' spammers target credit control failures

Credit control failures are a worry at the best of times, and none of us want to be left with overdue invoices to chase - or with unpaid invoices of our own that become subject to debt recovery action with interest and penalties added on top.

But a lax approach to credit control has taken a new turn in recent days, as a large number of spam emails have started circulating which claim to be chasing overdue invoices.

Most can be recognised quite easily, as they have a very simple subject line, containing the words 'Overdue invoice' followed by what looks like an 11-digit invoice reference; however, the invoice does not really exist.

There is also typically an email attachment in the .arj format, which is a method of compressing a file or folder into a single, smaller archive, and may have the risk of including files infected with a computer virus.

A look at the originating IP addresses of the mail servers used to send these emails reveals that they are coming from all over continental Europe, from Germany to Romania, which suggests that this is a broadly targeted spam attack.

Some of these mail servers are already on the blacklists of certain internet service providers, but with a large number of server locations being used, it is unlikely that your email spam filters will catch all of the emails.

What can I do?

The most obvious thing you can do is to be very wary of any emails you receive relating to overdue invoices, especially if you can't remember the transaction they refer to, or the original email address is located outside of the UK.

Content continues below

Crowdmix Ltd in Administration

London based start-up Crowdmix Ltd was in the process of developing a social media music platform. But before it could even launch its product fully, it ran out of money despite having previously…

The Business Bank: a 'helping hand' for SMEs?

The government's much-anticipated Business Bank got a kickstart of its own in the 2013 Budget, with the news that at least some of its measures are due to be introduced ahead of schedule. But while a…

When is it wise to ditch a non-paying client?

Having to chase late payments is sadly an experience most people in business have to go through at one time or another. But knowing when irritating delays have crossed the line into a breakdown in…

74% of global businesses say late payment is "a fact of life"

Default Image
When Tesco was exposed for its long payment delays, it exposed an ugly trend among large businesses: delay, delay and delay some more, until your supplier is on its knees. And while the supermarket…

Don't open email attachments unless you are sure of what they are - and even if they come from an address you recognise, it's often best to double check with the person you think has sent the email, before you click on any files.

Of course, if you keep on top of your invoices, you should be able to feel more confident that you are up to date with any payments, so any claim of an overdue invoice is easier to ignore.

Knock-on credit control problems

Finally, a word of warning for small businesses - with this spam issue in circulation, you could encounter knock-on effects for your own credit control.

Any emails you send out to your own customers reminding them about overdue invoices risk being mistaken for spam and simply ignored or deleted.

This makes it more important than ever to ensure attempts at debt recovery are sent regularly and from a legitimate source - including writing through the post if emails are unsuccessful.

Of course, taking a pragmatic approach to your invoicing to encourage customers to pay in full and on time is still the best solution.

In this way, you can make sure that as few invoices go overdue as possible - making it unnecessary to chase them, and avoiding the risk of your communications being dismissed as spam by the recipient.

Over 150 Years Of Industry Experience

Our modest but highly skilled team has a combined total of over 150 years of experience in commercial credit management and B2B debt collection. From independent IT contractors to major film and TV publishers, Safe Collections has the knowledge and experience you need to get paid quickly and cost effectively.

Image "Spam" by Flickr user Don O'Brien is licensed under CC BY 2.0

8:00 - 20:00

8:00 - 20:00

Our Opening Hours Mon. - Fri.

+44 (0) 1772 454505

+44 (0) 1772 454505

Got questions? Call us today. No hard sell, guaranteeed. 

© Safe Collections is a trading name of Safe Collections Limited. Incorporated 1984. Company Number: 01815264. VAT Number: GB407358159. All Rights Reserved.