Swindlers send mass-mailings of fake bills in hopes that consumers will accidentally pay them. Fake bills can be received through the regular postal service or as a message to a mobile phone.
The fake bill is usually labelled as something other than a bill, such as an Internet payment or service fee. A fake bill can look like a real one, but
- the content of the service and what the bill is for are often not clearly stated.
- there is not much time to make the payment, i.e. the due date is soon after the bill arrives.
- contact information is incomplete or the company cannot be contacted.
- the name of the company resembles that of a reputable company or well-known brand, but is a few letters or symbols off.
- the company is newly created and the people running it have had trouble with previous business operations.
The sender of a fake bill may have an impressive website with links to the websites of respected companies, as if those companies were working with the company that sent the bill.
Payments made accidentally are generally not easy to recover.
- It's a good idea to check if a bill is legitimate before paying it.
- A bill alone is not enough for claiming receivables. The sender of the bill must be able to show that it is based on a contract.
- If you receive a bill you believe is not legitimate or if it is not clear to you what you are being billed for, send a written complaint to the sender: deny that you have entered into a contract, or demand to know what the bill is based on.
- Keep a copy of the bill and the complaint in case of collection attempts.
- It is against the law to send consumers offers in the guise of bills – you can report these to the police.
If you suspect you have become the victim of a crime by paying an unfounded, fraudulent bill, you should report it to the police.
If you received an offer for a product or service in the guise of a bill, you can report it to the Competition and Consumer Authority.