Advice for charities on amending supplier bank account details

05 January 2011

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has urged charities to beware of an increasingly common fraud threat involving false requests to change the bank account details of existing suppliers’.

Complying with this fraudulent request could lead to charity funds being directed to a bank account which does not belong to a bona fide supplier.

Public and private organisations have both been subject to this fraud threat, and as the new independent regulator of Northern Ireland charities, the Charity Commission is keen that charities are made aware of, and take reasonable precautions against it.

Previous instances of the fraud have provided useful indicators for charities to be aware of. These include:

  • verbal and email requests to have bank account details changed;
  • elaborate requests with the fraudster adopting the identity of the supplier, using official looking stationery to request changes;
  • requests to change bank account details proceeded by requests to change suppliers’ contact details;
  • in some instances genuine supplier reference numbers have been quoted to add authenticity to the request, these having been obtained through earlier engagement with the paying organisation.

The Commission advises charities to be vigilant therefore when dealing with suppliers. Preventative measures are also possible. The Commission, for example, suggests that:

  • charities have appropriate procedures in place for authenticating and approving supplier change requests before actioning them;
  • charities scrutinise all requests for changes in payment details, no matter how minor;
  • as part of standard procedures suppliers should be independently contacted by charities to verify that any change of bank details or contact details is genuine.

Should you have any queries on this issue please contact the Charity Commission’s Monitoring and Compliance Manager, Fiona Muldoon on 028 3832 0267 or fiona.muldoon@charitycommissionni.org.uk

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