Avoiding the Men in Black

Avoiding the Men in Black

Vendor Information Collection and Validation

As she crossed the company parking lot early one morning, the director of shared services saw them. Men in black. Two of them. As she neared the building entrance, they approached and addressed her by name. She was afraid this day would come, and it finally had.

They flashed their federal credentials, and she welcomed them up to her office. They were there to talk about a payment she had authorized. As it turned out, the payee was on a sanctions list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department, and the SSC director and her company were in trouble.

This really happened. So maybe you’ve heard of OFAC’s sanctions lists? The U.S. government has lists of individuals, organizations, and countries with whom it is illegal to do business, including narcotics traffickers, diamond smugglers, rogue regimes, terrorist organizations, et cetera. Various lists are aggregated and published, and transactions monitored by OFAC. If you run afoul of the list, it’s going to cost you. Banks, in their compliance, effectively screen payments for the government. They’ll find out if you slip. So what are you doing about it? Are you screening your supplier list?

The SSC director in this story, despite the payment but fortunately from a personal standpoint, had done something. She knew about the list and her responsibility, and so had initially refused to authorize payment. She warned her superiors that the payment to that particular entity was not allowed. They insisted she pay it, however. So she insisted on getting a signed letter from her CFO taking responsibility for it. When the day arrived bringing the men in black, she called her CFO to let him know the reckoning had come.

Civil penalties for 2017 as of this writing total $118 million (see the OFAC section of the Department of Treasury website). You can learn more about OFAC compliance from the Department of Treasury or at the AP & P2P Network, but it is pretty simple: Don’t pay an entity found on OFAC’s SDN aggregate list of blocked persons and parties or anyone in sanctioned countries. Check suppliers against the list to ensure they’re not on it. (And be prepared to explain the law to your management.)

That’s just one of the things you need to do before you set up a supplier in the vendor master file. There are a number of details to address and information to gather in setting up a new vendor. First, you want to verify that they are a legitimate supplier and not a fraudulent one of course, then, that they are an allowed supplier. Because once they’re in the master file, they can be paid. A well-maintained vendor master file is a core element of fraud prevention.

Of course, you also have to obtain a payee’s tax classification and a valid tax identification number (TIN) from them. The master file also includes remit-to information, physical address (have you checked that with the USPS for the correct format?) and bank routing and account information (have you tested that?).

You want to be sure you are gathering the information you need, and validating where it is either necessary (OFAC) or possible (IRS TIN match, USPS address correction). You also want to make it easy for yourself and for your suppliers. Third-party supplier portals, such as VendorInfo, can help with the things like the OFAC check, TIN matching, and address verification. Of course, supplier portals also facilitate communication with and information collection from your suppliers.

Getting the facts straight and properly recorded at the start of a new supplier relationship paves the way for a smoother payment process and a better supplier relationship. The devil is in the details, including in the process to ensure everything gets done. VendorInfo can help. If you want to avoid the men in black or any other unwelcome reception party, make sure your process includes checking the list, is thorough and is consistently followed.

To learn about vendor verification and compliance click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.


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Stop Calls and Emails, Enhance
Service and Increase Profit!

InvoiceInfo saves labor hours and cost by helping suppliers and internal staff easily and instantly get answers online to their invoice-payment questions.

If you are like many finance leaders today, you are being challenged to reduce costs more quickly. InvoiceInfo delivers real bottom-line results almost immediately, allowing you to deploy your customer service staff to focus on more productive, bottom-line oriented tasks.

Let us show you how InvoiceInfo's vendor self-service portal can help your organization eliminate invoice inquiry emails and calls while enhancing service to your accounts payable customers.


Get Up and Running Quickly and Seamlessly

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are standalone applications that can be up and running in as little as two weeks, with little or no IT resources required.

The faster your online portal is up and running, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits. InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are dedicated solely to helping AP and procurement departments slash the time and expense of servicing vendors, while improving customer service for their suppliers.

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.


Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!


Easy and Economical Solution to Serve Vendors Around the World

InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.


Enhance AP’s Role As a Strategic Partner

Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

Many automation technologies such as scanning, workflow, e-invoicing, ACH, and electronic invoicing require significant investments of money, time and talent, making it difficult to get buy-in from upper management. Not InvoiceInfo!

If your goal for your AP department is to reduce costs quickly, call or email us today to learn more about how InvoiceInfo can help you achieve this goal through a quick, inexpensive and easy implementation of a vendor self-service portal.


Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.


Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.


Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!


Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.


Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

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