Forgery in bills or receipts has created much chaos in the market and earned a lot of criticism. While not issuing a bill violates the law of consumer protection under unfair trade practice, issuing a fake bill also attracts penalty under Indian Penal Code section 465. If you have ever been fooled by a counterfeit bill, never let that happen again. Here is how you can tell a fake bill from an original one:
1. The logo
This should be an easy one to figure out. The logo of the company on the bill or invoice should be crisp and neat. A forged bill, most of the times, would have smudged, an unclear logo which should be easily recognized.In case naked eyes do not tell you the difference, scan the bill. A scanned copy of the bill will show you a sharp logo if the former is real. This is the first step towards a competent bill management.
2. Information and detail
A fake bill may have a slight change in the company address or phone number. There might be instances of wrongly spelled a business name or incorrect product code. It would be a good idea to check the business name, address and phone number online. A company is consistent when it comes to printing information and details to avoid confusion and miscommunication. Look for the typographical errors or wrong info typed in the bill to differentiate between phony and genuine bill. In case of a firm/small company, same is applicable to the account number which a vendor provides for payment of money. Watch out if there is any change in account number or shuffling of digits.
To avoid such fraud money transactions, a purchase order is raised and issued to the seller. The seller, if registered will have his bank account number added to the company records. This process safeguards the interest of the seller from fake bills generated within the organization as well as competitors of the same name.
3. It’s the size that matters
A company that issues bill prefers issuing the same of the invoice with the same format. Change in financial software or operating methods may at times bring in the change of invoice formats or size, though the frequency of the same would be less. It is advisable to compare the last bills from the company in your records to shun suspicion.
4. Customer copy of bill
Remember, an authentic bill will have two copies. One of them is retained by the seller, while the other goes to the customer. If you don’t see that happening, that’s a sign of a possible fraud or counterfeit bill. Printed receipts would mention “customer copy” or “merchant copy” at the bottom of the bill. Even if you do not accept your copy, the merchant has to print and retain his copy as a mandate. In case a seller gives you a handwritten bill, notice the carbon paper under the bill which he uses to create the merchant copy. The absence of the above is a proof of fake bill handed over to you. Ask for “my invoice” and watch the duplicate copy kept with the merchant.
5. Even amount
Let’s be honest. When you buy items in retail store or pay at a food joint, you may not find anything wrong in the bill, since you assume that the same price mentioned on the counter display or menu would be billed to you. Here is the trick which many may fall prey to. Smart ones round off the small amount in small change making it a whole number. For example, if the amount is Rs 113.11, the biller may round it off to Rs 115 while pocketing the change or handing you an extra toffee. And we could not agree more on this since this happens at a parking lot and retail stores. Do check your bill for even (rounded off) amounts.
6. Date and signature
Check for the date on a bill. Faded out digits from the date or invisible numbers should raise an alarm for a false bill. Frauds often happen on backdated bills. Any payment that has to be made against a bill should be of current date. Validate the same with a purchase order or work request order in your records. In case of customers, you should check the current date while accepting the bill.
The vendor signature or seller signature should validate an original bill. Since system generated bills do not require signature, differentiating between fake and original may be a bit difficult. In such a scenario, ask for the bill on company letterhead with seal. You can also do that if the seller claims they ran out of paper and could not furnish a bill to you on the spot. Request them to email the bill to you. This would make your life easy.
When you buy electronic items or products with warranty claims, watch out for a warranty card which would be issued separately. In fact, bills mention about warranty card available separately since a bill does not represent a guarantee of any product. If the seller next time tries to fool you saying a bill has the warranty claims mentioned in it, you should be cautious.
Fake or counterfeit bills have become a huge problem which disturbs the economic balance. Not only customers lose money, but organizations also become victims of forgeries, costing them money and reputation. As responsible citizens, it is our moral duty to be alert and recognize counterfeit bills. Keeping in mind the above details would surely help you resolve the issue.