Credit control failures are a worry at the best of times, and none of us want to be left with overdue invoices to chase - or with unpaid invoices of our own that become subject to debt recovery action with interest and penalties added on top.

But a lax approach to credit control has taken a new turn in recent days, as a large number of spam emails have started circulating which claim to be chasing overdue invoices.

The Scottish Question is about to be answered, and whether the majority vote Yes or No, changes are on the horizon for the Scottish economy and for those of us labelled rUK, short for either the 'rest of the UK' or more disparagingly, the 'remnant UK'.

We're not arguing in favour of either viewpoint - that's for the Scottish public to decide - but it's important that English businesses should be aware of the ramifications that may arise from a vote either way.

Whether you're in business on your own, or part of a company, it's essential to protect your income - and one of the greatest areas of risk is when you extend a line of credit to a customer.

Remember, any time you carry out work, or provide goods or services, without taking payment upfront, you are effectively investing in your customers company.

When working with clients who are based overseas, there are several things you should take into account - ideally, from the moment you begin working for them, rather than later in the process when you encounter a previously unconsidered obstacle.

Here are some of the main issues at hand, and how you can work around them, or even with them, to make the best possible client relationship.

Making sure you get paid promptly every time, without fail, is about more than just issuing invoices promptly (although that can help).

There are several ways to increase your chance of receiving payment in full and on time - and here are some of the main points to consider.

Business overdrafts have been called the 'hidden credit crunch' following the news that while traditional bank business loans have fallen 9% in the past two years, the banks have called in 23% of overdrafts in the same period.

The figures come from a report by finance providers LDF, who say traditional bank business loans fell from £187 billion to £170 billion in the two years to March 2014, while overdrafts fell from £18.2 billion to £14.1 billion.

An unpaid invoice is a nightmare we would all prefer to avoid, but you're not necessarily just at the whim of your customers when it comes to whether or not you get paid on time.

It's also important to make sure you are invoicing properly - from the moment you take on a new customer, to how you deal with late payments - so you don't lose a single penny through your own fault and poor admin procedures.

EU legislators have been working for two years on a 'right to be forgotten' - specifically, the right to request that information about your past should be removed from the Internet, or made inaccessible when people search for your name on a search engine.

But this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union seemed to find a 'right to be forgotten' already in European law, in a preliminary ruling relating to a case brought by a Spanish man against Google and its Spanish subsidiary.

We often warn that late payment can be more than just an inconvenience for many small firms, as the interruption to cash flow can put them at risk of failing to pay their own debts, bills and invoices - potentially leading to insolvency.

Now newly published figures from R3, the Association of Business Recovery Professionals, show the extent to which this is the case, with late payment cited as a major or primary factor in the failure of one in five companies in the past year.

Late payments to SMEs must not be an acceptable way for big businesses to boost their own profits, according to business secretary Vince Cable, who is taking action to improve the transparency of corporate payment practices.

In a recent government consultation, the majority of respondents voted in favour of disclosure as a means of tackling late payments - and the government is now planning to require publication of payment practices by large companies.

The Prompt Payment Code will also be strengthened, with signatories held more accountable for their actions - although it is worth remembering that this is currently still a voluntary initiative.

Hitting the Headlines: Safe Collections in the Guardian

in About Safe Collections by Adam Home
If you're a Guardian reader, you may have seen Safe Collections' collections and partnerships manager Adam Home quoted in a Guardian Professional article on May 12th. Tim Aldred's piece looked at the case for credit control teams as a way for businesses to…

Hitting The Headlines: The Independent on Sunday

in About Safe Collections by Adam Home
In 2009 our founder and Managing Director was interviewed for a piece in The Independent On Sunday, this article is reproduced below with their kind permission. in 2009 we still went by our original name of Creditsafe Ltd, whilst our name may have changed our…