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Stop wasting money in duplicate invoice payments

December 11, 2019

Adolfo Paredes | Business Development

Duplicating payments is a real problem for many companies, no matter their size. Duplicate invoice payments occur more often than you might think; according to itktechnologies, 0.1% to 0.05% of invoices are duplicate payments- for a medium-sized company moving around $100 million in the three-year period, it could repay a $300,000 loss on duplicate invoices.

Main causes of duplicated payments

Sometimes - not always - it is due to human error, other reasons may involve more complex processes, such as software or internal business processes. The main reasons are:

-You make a typographical error on the invoice number: For example, O instead of 0, or 5 instead of S.

-Unethical employees or vendors taking advantage of increased opportunities to hide duplicate payments to enrich themselves at the organization’s expense.

-Invoice canceled after supplier sent payment

-The vendor sent the same invoice via multiple channels

How to detect double invoices

Detecting a double invoice for a company before payment is processed can be very difficult, as these are not necessarily exact copies of the other invoice (see the typographical errors).

Your AP department can internally investigate all invoices to see if there are duplicates. The basic steps would be: Looking for invoices with the same or similar amounts; looking for similar invoice numbers, given a typo; invoices paid to the same vendor from different sources; looking for similar numbers but different accounts.

But this can be counterproductive for all the time it would take, and it would also remove them from their main job. So many companies outsource to take care of these details. 

Reduce duplicate invoices

According to cfodailynews.com, 30% of duplicate payments involve an issue with the MVF (Master Vendor File), many companies already have their employees looking for spelling errors, repeat entries, or missing information. It is also important to prevent fatigue of the same employees, and to look for different people to do those tasks. An employee who does that all day can get tired and normalize small mistakes without paying much attention to whether it's right or wrong.

You can also monitor and limit payment requests; when payments do not arrive, it is normal for vendors to enter a second payment request, which doubles the chances of a second invoice. Companies must enter a policy of only asking for second payments when the first invoice is not found.

Establish consistent payment methods for each supplier; It is possible that some vendors will send the same invoice through different channels, and it is more than possible that your AP team will do the same. This can lead to easy duplication of invoices through different channels. For the same reason, it is better to clarify from the beginning with your vendor which channel the transactions will be made through. 

You should always be evaluating ways to create revision filters that are efficient within the process, mapping out where those mistakes are more likely to occur help, or you can always outsource these processes to a trusted partner. 


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