How Can You Tell If an Invoice Is Fake?

business personal security May 27, 2024
Frustrated accounts payable clerk with curly dark hair and glasses is trying to figure out if the paper in her hand is a real or fake invoice.  She thinks it's a scam!

Have you ever received an invoice and wondered if it’s real?

Scammers are getting better at making fake invoices look real. Here are ten ways to tell if an invoice is fake and a bonus tip that’s the simplest way to spot a fake invoice.



1) You Don’t Know Who Sent It

If you get an invoice from someone you don’t know, be careful. You should know who is sending you a bill. If you don’t recognize the name, look them up online. See if other people are saying it’s a scam.

2) Check the Links and Contact Information

Look at the links and contact details on the invoice. Do they match the company that says they sent the invoice? Scammers often change a letter or add a dash to make it look real. Make sure everything matches.

3) Get a Second Opinion

Don’t be afraid to ask someone else if they think the invoice is real. Scammers try to make you feel like you must pay quickly. Take your time and ask for help if you’re unsure. Our community forum at can help you check.

4) Attacks Often Use High-Pressure Tactics

If the invoice says you need to pay right now or something bad will happen, be careful. Scammers try to scare you into paying quickly. Take your time and check if it’s real.

5) Asking You to Pay With Weird Payment Methods

If the invoice asks you to pay with gift cards, bitcoin, or over the phone, be careful. Real companies usually don’t ask for these payment methods.

6) Strange Language or Errors

Look at the language on the invoice. Are there spelling mistakes or bad grammar? These can be signs of a fake invoice. If it looks strange, take a closer look.

7) Invoice Asking for Banking Information

Be careful if the invoice asks for your bank or credit card information. Real invoices usually tell you how to pay, not ask for your details directly.

8) Brown Envelopes

Most normal invoices don’t come in brown envelopes. Scammers use brown envelopes because they know you will open them. Check carefully if you get a brown envelope.

9) The Invoice is From Overseas

If the invoice is from overseas and you don’t usually buy from there, be careful. Most unsolicited invoices from overseas are scams.

10) You've Been Invoiced For Something You Don’t Have

If the invoice is for something you didn’t buy or a service you don’t use, don’t pay it.  A scammer may threaten to send a bill to collections but in the real world they won’t because they don’t want the publicity and their court case won’t hold up. Never plugin a usb stick that you randomly receive in the mail even if it’s from a reputable company. Scammers have been know to mimic reputable companies and include malicious viruses on these trojan horses disguised as a freebie. 

Bonus Tip: It Says “This Is Not a Bill”

Scammers sometimes send papers that look like invoices but say “This is not a bill.” This is a trick to get your money. If you see this, don’t pay it. Throw it away.

Scammers are always trying new ways to trick us. By following these tips, you can protect yourself from fake invoices. Stay safe and take your time to check every invoice before you pay it.