Every time someone physically handles a check in a business, there is an opportunity for fraud. A 2018 Association of Financial Professionals study showed that 78 percent of companies experienced fraud and that almost three-quarters of that fraud related to paper check payments.1 Collection and payment automation can mitigate fraud risk with safer, faster, easier and less expensive ways to process funding moving into and out of a business.
Increased attention to reducing a business’s fraud risk has led electronic payments to dominate both business and consumer invoices and bills. In fact, more than 87 percent of non-cash payments are made electronically using cards and electronic payments.2 Electronic tools for securing collections and electronifying payments such as digital check scanning, merchant services and electronic billing offer businesses a path to safer and more secure transactions.
Fraud-conscious businesses are capitalizing on technology advances related to collections. They are changing customer payment preferences to shrink their collection cycle by days and eliminate hours of labor from the process, all while reducing the risk of fraud. With the help of these technologies and your bank, you can take the following practical steps to improve your collections efforts and help your business fight fraud:
Accept credit card payments
By setting up a merchant credit card processing account, you can receive payments immediately online or over the phone, instead of waiting for checks to arrive. Businesses are putting larger and more valuable purchases on credit cards to earn points and consolidate expense tracking. It is a safer, faster and cheaper way to collect.
Most merchant services solutions also offer check verification to identify checks likely to be rejected due to insufficient funds, limiting your exposure to customer fraud.
Bill and collect electronically
Use of electronic receivables technology limits the manual handling of invoices and payments, creating a more secure payment environment for you and your customers:
- Online billing and payment services allow you to generate and e-mail PDF invoices from accounting or word-processing software.
- Preauthorized ACH debits enable acceptance of customer payments and speed collections by allowing automatic payments from regular customers. Payments are less expensive than wire transfers and typically clear faster than checks. Customers simply fill out a form, provide a few account details and authorize payments.
For the payments you do handle manually, control deposits safely and securely by scanning checks at the office and depositing them electronically. Many banks offer scanners that deposit checks right from your desktop or the point of sale. These check-deposit machines help speed deposits, eliminate trips to the bank and minimize effort in depositing and viewing receivables from pending and completed transactions. Remote deposit technology allows for deposits after banking hours with the transaction credited to the bank account that same day.
Paying employees and suppliers electronically or by card is more convenient for both them and you while providing you better expense information. Card technology offers basic controls and audit trails that deter fraud.
Start with card programs
Commercial card programs offer enhanced expense management and more precise control over payment timing. They also provide for:
- Better monitoring and analysis of employee spending
- Provide a streamlined method to pay for business expenses
- Create segregation and reporting of a variety of payments and expenses through card management programs
Card programs can vary from purchasing cards that streamline procurement to corporate cards that manage employee and vendor spending and can include management tools like the Enterprise Spend Platform or ESP Express® with One Card.
Consider ACH payments
The use of Automated Clearing House (ACH) for payments allows for:
- Reduced transaction processing
- Scheduled routine, repetitive payments
- Fast and secure processing
ACH payments can be initiated through Online Bill Pay transactions sent to a business that accepts ACH payments or through Enterprise Payment Processing that accepts a file from the transmitting business with all types of payments including ACH payments, checks to be printed and wire transfers to be sent.
Evaluate Direct Deposit of Payroll
Today’s technology provides an enterprise-wide payroll processing solution that has both simplified logistics and increased security. Using ACH in combination with a payroll card, it is possible to achieve 100% participation in a direct deposit program. Direct deposit will:
- Reduce the number of checks to reconcile
- Protect the integrity of payroll data
- Insure timely payment to employees
- Provide accurate data for tax and insurance purposes