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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > February 2014 > Ohio Businesses Report Phony Invoice Scam

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Ohio Businesses Report Phony Invoice Scam

Imagine receiving a fax or letter from an unfamiliar company attempting to collect payment for a product or service. The company provides a legitimate-looking “invoice” and requests immediate payment. Unfortunately, businesses across the state are reporting similar experiences to the Attorney General’s Office.

Just like consumers, businesses can be the target of scams and deceptive behavior in the marketplace. Ohio businesses should review all invoices and bills closely before submitting payment. Many scammers create and distribute phony invoices to businesses, hoping that some businesses may not confirm whether the invoice corresponds with an actual purchase and pay for products or services the business never received.
Recently, a Columbus-based animal hospital reported receiving faxes from a “telephone directory company,” stating the hospital owed nearly $800, even though the hospital had not agreed to purchase any products or services. A truck equipment company in Circleville, a yogurt shop in Youngstown, and a heating and cooling company in Columbus reported similar experiences. All received unfamiliar invoices from a telephone directory service. Fortunately, the businesses were able to protect their money by recognizing the scam and reporting it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Avoid phony invoice scams by following these tips:
  • Centralize office management so one person oversees all of the vendors. This will help prevent scammers from pretending they’ve done business with your company.
  • Immediately report any unordered merchandise or invoices to the vendor.
  • Read all invoices closely to make sure that you’ve done business with the vendor and that the charges are legitimate before providing payment.
  • Request contact information from those offering services over the telephone or by email.
  • Before doing business with a vendor, ask for references from past or current customers, and check the references. Also check with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau to determine if complaints have been filed against the vendor.
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by visiting or calling 800-282-0515.