Duplicate Payment: Understanding Its Causes And Strategies For Prevention

Have you ever found yourself scanning through ledgers and spotting an all-too-familiar name with a matching amount?

That’s a duplicate payment, a pesky hiccup that can sneak in when there are gaps in your accounts payable. Although such mishaps might seem like minor blips now and then, they are financial leaks that can bleed your company’s resources dry.

In a perfect world, your software would spot and halt any double payments. But, sometimes, invoices slip through without those handy identifiers, especially with those recurring bills we often set and forget.

Whether you’re overseeing invoice approvals, sending out bills, or balancing the books for your enterprise, understanding the pitfalls of duplicate payments is crucial. That’s because every duplicated payment is a missed opportunity—for investment, growth, or simply better cash flow management.

Fret not; in this article, we’ll decode the intricacies of duplicate payments, equipping you with the knowledge to keep your finances watertight and your operations seamless.

What Is A Duplicate Payment? 

A duplicate payment, as the name suggests, refers to the unintended act of making an additional payment to a supplier for an invoice that has already been settled. This oversight typically stems from gaps or inefficiencies in a company’s accounts payable processes, which fail to identify or flag prior payments.

The ideal scenario is for payables software to automatically recognize and highlight recurring invoice numbers, preventing errors. However, the challenge intensifies when supplier invoices either lack unique identifying numbers or periodic billings come into play without distinct markers.

As these slips bypass the usual checks and balances, they can result in unnecessary financial drains, posing challenges for AP teams and business owners. In fact, businesses inadvertently squander approximately 1%-3% of their budget due to duplicate or erroneous invoices.

Payment Fraud in 2023

The Implications Of Duplicate Payments

As mentioned previously, duplicate payments are a subtle yet perilous pitfall in the financial operations of many businesses. The following are their implications:

#1 Financial Loss And Inefficiencies

Duplicate payments can significantly impact your bottom line. Every overpayment, no matter how small, chips away at your profits. Beyond the immediate financial setback, there’s the additional cost in terms of manpower and resources.

Resolving these discrepancies and refining processes to prevent future errors means investing hours that could be better spent elsewhere, leading to operational inefficiencies.

#2 Impact On Supplier Relationships

Maintaining a smooth relationship with suppliers is crucial for business operations. Duplicate payments can introduce unwanted friction. Overpayments can complicate account reconciliations, and even if unintentional, they can signal oversight in your financial processes. Such issues, if recurrent, might make suppliers wary and could influence future contract terms or negotiations.

#3 Erosion Of Trust And Company Reputation

Your company’s reputation is invaluable. When stakeholders, partners, or even employees notice frequent payment discrepancies, it might raise concerns about financial management and overall operational integrity. Over time, repeated financial missteps can diminish the trust that others place in your company, potentially affecting partnerships and growth opportunities.

5 Common Causes Of A Duplicate Payment

Understanding the root causes of duplicate payments is key to preventing them. Let’s explore the most prevalent culprits:

#1 Manual Errors

We are sure you must be familiar with the risks of manual data entry. A hurried typo or an unintended vendor selection can easily lead to payment discrepancies. Sometimes, without a solid review system, you could find yourself approving an invoice multiple times, or a member of your team might accidentally process a payment twice.

#2 Systemic Flaws

If you’re still reliant on older software and systems, you may not have the safeguards needed to prevent duplicate payments. Integration issues between platforms can further exacerbate the problem. Without the edge of modern automation, you’re often left to rely heavily on manual checks, increasing the chance of errors.

#3 Operational Oversights

A lack of standardized processes can be a significant stumbling block. If your accounts payable team isn’t communicating effectively with, say, the procurement department, it’s all too easy to pay the same invoice twice. Plus, if your team isn’t adequately trained on the intricacies of the payment process, vital steps might be missed.

#4 Miscommunication & Lack of Visibility Into The AP Process

With many companies embracing remote work, especially post-pandemic, having clarity in your payment process becomes even more critical. So, if you don’t have a clear, centralized system for tracking invoice payments, it can become challenging to ensure everything is paid correctly and on time, avoiding those pesky duplicates.

#5 Payment Scams

Another challenge you might face is the rising threat of payment scams. It’s crucial for your AP team to be vigilant and identify fake invoices. Given that many scammers use genuine vendor and invoice data to craft their schemes, it can be tough to spot the fakes.

As a matter of fact, a whopping 65% of businesses were targeted via email scams. If you accidentally pay one of these fraudulent invoices, you’re still on the hook for the legitimate payment to the actual vendor. This duplicate payment is especially painful since funds lost to scammers might never return.

5 Common Causes Of A Duplicate Payment

Strategies For Prevention Of Duplicate Payments

Addressing the challenge of duplicate payments requires a blend of proactive measures and systematic interventions. Here’s how you can do it.

#1 Technological Interventions

When you upgrade to the latest accounting software, you’re arming yourself with tools designed to detect and correct payment anomalies. Think about the ease of having an automated payment system, where manual risks diminish. And don’t overlook the power of AI and machine learning – these advanced technologies can spot discrepancies that might otherwise escape your notice.

#2 Operational Best Practices

Consistency is your best friend here. When you implement a standard payment procedure across your operations, you give everyone a clear path to follow. And remember, it’s not just about setting up the process; regular reconciliations and audits help you keep things in check.

As for your team, ensure they’re up-to-date with training sessions and are familiar with the latest in AP technology. A well-informed team can easily spot and address any red flags, making the payment process smoother and more reliable.

#3 Strengthening Supplier Relationships

How often do you touch base with your suppliers? Open and clear communication can make all the difference. When you and your suppliers are on the same page regarding invoicing and payments, errors become less likely. And if you can, encourage them to switch to electronic invoicing – it’s a win-win for accuracy and efficiency.

#4 Avoiding Human Error

Mistakes are a part of life, but in the AP world, their repercussions can be hefty. Streamlining your invoice approval process can make it easier to track and recall past actions. And don’t underestimate the value of uniform procedures, from data entry to invoice reception.

Clear out any duplicate vendor entries in your ERP system, and consider automation as a reliable ally. When processes run automatically, there’s less room for human error.

#5 Checking Invoices For Fraud

Lastly, make it a habit to regularly inspect invoices for any signs of fraud, you’re already one step ahead. Keep an eye out for unexpected changes in payment patterns, odd-looking invoice numbers, or vendors that don’t ring a bell.

Always ensure that the invoices you’re processing are not just authentic but are also routed to the right bank accounts. After all, nobody wants to pay twice for a single service.

Prevent Duplicate Payments With Bedrock

A duplicate payment can arise from manual errors, systemic flaws, miscommunication, operational oversights, and, alarmingly, payment scams. However, with the right strategies and software, these challenges can be tackled.

If you are having a hard time preventing duplicate payments, get in touch with Bedrock today. At Bedrock, our Keystone solutions offer a three-stage recovery method that utilizes more than 40 distinctive algorithms to detect and rectify duplicate and incorrect invoices. 

Our AI-driven system can stop a duplicate payment even before it’s issued, removing the necessity for manual verification and saving you from potential complications and expenses.

Furthermore, our Payments-as-a-Service solution can offload your entire payment function while proactively converting payments to virtual cards, resulting in both significant time savings and rebate opportunities.

So, what are you waiting for? Give us a call today.