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8 causes of duplicate payments in accounts payable

In this blog, we explore why duplicate payments happen with reference to technology, human and process failings.
Neon effect signage shows a document being copied from one folder to another, to signify duplicate or double payments

Double payments happen for a multitude of reasons, both accidental and purposeful. The cause can be as simple as a system error or non-compliance to process. We’ve broken causes of duplicate payments down into three groups. To eradicate them, you’ll need to focus on all three:

Human Causes of Duplicate Payments

Fraud and payment scams.

Existing supplier data can be used to create scam emails. In this case the vendor needs to still be paid and so a duplicate payment is made. Alternatively, the vendor themselves may be a fraudster, asking for a payment them have already received.

Inputting errors.

If an invoice has been inputted manually at any point in the process, including by your vendors, you can be at risk of human error.

Process Causes of Duplicate Payments

Lack of oversight in the P2P process.

Making checking payments difficult and time-consuming, and therefore making duplicates easy to miss.

Insecure payment options.

While digital payments offer easy tracking and are the most likely payment method, according to Pay UK, 78% of businesses still use cheques, which can be delayed. This causes the possibility of accidentally issuing two cheques for the same invoice.

Invoices being sent both physically and digitally.

This makes it difficult to follow paper trails.

Technological Causes of Duplicate Payments

Lack of a centralised system for invoices and payments.

Multiple data entry points and no one way to view them all can lead to confusion and duplications.

Syncing issues between your systems.

If your system isn’t synced properly and a large time gap ensues, an individual may enter the invoice manually thinking it hasn’t been picked up, only to have it appear once the system updates.

Invoices in different formats confusing ERP systems.

Data extraction tools can sometimes be hit or miss, and if an invoice is formatted differently to what it expects, it can become confused and interpret it incorrectly. It’s important to take this into account and ensure incoming invoices are uniform to avoid inaccuracy and further checks. Another way to combat this is to use more sophisticated automated systems. Some organisations have found that AI-based tools them higher accuracy than OCR alone.

How FISCAL helps you prevent duplicate payments

Our software solution uses AI and forensic-level tests to automatically analyse your transactions, finding high-risk invoices that could be duplicates. This leaves you to investigate and action these risks before the payment run.

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