We have received a number of notifications from Dealers in the last few months about payment fraud.
The story generally goes as follows:
- A representative from a company phones the site and requests a quote. The quote could be for petrol, diesel or other services
- The quote is then accepted and an undertaking is made to pay
- A payment is made and the proof of payment is sent through, or the representative requests that you confirm the payment on your bank statement
- You find a payment was made, but for a much larger amount than the quote
- The representative then phones again and claims a mistake has been made. The wrong amount was paid to you and you are requested to pay the difference back into their bank account
- They may even offer to accept less or let you deduct an amount for bank charges
If you are not aware of these scams you may not find anything wrong with the scenario. In your haste to help customers and provide exceptional service you may even convince yourself that nothing is wrong.
A number of things should trigger further investigation:
- Was the payment really an EFT? Most of the time it is a cheque payment, which you can confirm with your bank
- The fraudster may even send you a proof of EFT that has been “created” by them and not their bank
- The payment will usually be for a higher amount than your original quote
- The payment will usually be from a company you don’t know
- The fraudster will usually offer some sort of deduction or benefit to you “for your inconvenience”
- The fraudster will phone every day and put you under pressure to pay
- The fraudster may do his/her homework about your company and mention specific details about you or your company to set your mind at ease
In all cases, you should have a clear policy on how to handle this situation:
- Always require proof of payment, especially from “new” customers
- Before you pay anything, make sure it wasn’t a cheque payment. If it is, the cheque will be returned after a few days and you will be out of pocket
- If it is a cheque payment, tell the customer that your company policy is to wait for the cheque to clear before any payment is refunded
- Ask for an official letter on a letter head with company details
- Inform your bank immediately of everything that’s happened
The only reason they keep trying is because they still have success. Let’s make sure they are not successful in the fuel industry.
DON’T be pressured into refunding a payment without the appropriate proof
DON’T allow anyone else to make payments without your approval
DO train your entire management team on this type of fraud and how to identify a fraudster
DO remind your team to make notes when they start suspecting fraud; details such as names and numbers can help the bank later with their fraud investigation
Keep in mind that people do make mistakes and you don’t want to anger a real customer by being rude, argumentative or suspicious. Train your team to be courteous but firm. Give them the assurance of a clear company policy, which they can use when speaking to a possible fraudster on the phone.