How can I recognize a false receipt?

Businessman with a folder

There are a few clues to look for in a receipt that can provide information on whether it is a fake. A skilled forger can produce highly reliable receipts that may require considerable investigation to verify. It is important to consider the origin of the receipt when evaluating it; a printed e-mail receipt, for example, should be different from a document generated in a store, whether on a thermal printer or laser jet.

An indicator that a receipt is fake can be obviously incorrect information. A false receipt may list the company name and contact information incorrectly, or it may not encode products as the company does. This information can be verified by looking for the company; If the receipt says the store is at 123 Fake Receipt Way and the company doesn’t list a store at this address, that could be a hint. Incorrect product codes are another red flag. Each product must have its own unique ID number, and if it doesn’t match the company’s listings often found on their website, the receipt could be fake.

Texture and appearance can also be warning signs. Some stores use watermarked paper, and a fake receipt will be easy to spot because it doesn’t have a watermark or the pattern looks wrong. It is usually necessary to have a valid receipt for comparison. If the receipts are very sharp, this could be another sign of a fake receipt. Most receipts get a little wrinkled, even with careful handling, and a smooth, even surface with no wrinkles or smudges can be fake.

Limited details are another issue. Some receipts are simply record tapes, with a timestamp and a list of various items purchased at various prices. They’re easy to fake with something like an adding machine, although a fraudulent receipt might list prices that don’t exist or calculate sales tax incorrectly, and that could be a clue. Other recipes should offer more details; a restaurant receipt, for example, will name the dish, while a clothing store will often list SKU numbers on their receipts. The receipt may also include a return policy and contact information. If this information is missing, the document may be fake.

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If a receipt looks questionable, you can take it to the original issuer for verification. Personnel can determine whether the receipt is valid or has been altered in any way from the original. If the source of the receipt is not nearby, one option is to call, mention the questionable receipt, and ask for some information to see if it is valid. This investigation time may not be worth it if the false receipt is of a low value, and fraudsters can rely on this when submitting fabricated receipts for expense reports or false product returns.

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