Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Negative Confirmation


Negative confirmation is a method used in auditing to seek indirect verification of a financial account’s accuracy or balance. Instead of contacting all account holders for direct confirmation, auditors only require a response from those who find discrepancies in their records. This approach is considered efficient and cost-effective when the risk of errors is relatively low and internal controls are strong.


The phonetic spelling of “Negative Confirmation” would be:ˈnɛɡətɪv kɒnfərˈmeɪʃən

Key Takeaways

  1. Negative Confirmation is a method of verifying a client or customer’s information by requesting a response only when there is a discrepancy or issue with the details provided.
  2. It’s a time-efficient approach, as it requires action only when there’s a problem, reducing the overall number of responses needed in comparison to positive confirmation methods.
  3. However, negative confirmation may not be as reliable as positive confirmation, as it assumes that the absence of a response implies accuracy, leaving room for miscommunication or lack of attention from the recipient.


Negative confirmation is an important business and finance term as it is a method of verifying the accuracy of financial information, often used by auditors as a means to confirm the accounts receivable for a company. It involves requesting the company’s customers to respond only if they find discrepancies between their records and the account listed by the company’s management. By incorporating negative confirmations, auditors can efficiently assess the potential risk or discrepancy in financial statements without needing direct responses from every individual customer. It streamlines the auditing process, reduces effort and time, and helps to maintain the integrity of financial records, ensuring accuracy and reliability.


Negative confirmation is a widely utilized auditing procedure that primarily serves to assess the accuracy of the information contained within a company’s financial records. Primarily employed by external auditors, this method seeks to confirm that the account balances and transactions conducted by a business are in fact correct and free from any discrepancies or irregularities. By sending a communication to a selected group of customers or vendors, auditors request recipients to respond only in the event of discrepancies being identified between their records and the provided transaction details. This approach is best suited for circumstances where errors are expected to be relatively rare and where the auditees have established a strong track record of maintaining robust internal controls. Acting as a time-efficient and cost-effective alternative to positive confirmation, negative confirmation plays a pivotal role in reducing the audit risk associated with material misstatements. By requiring response only when discrepancies are found, auditors can expeditiously evaluate the veracity of client records without a need for follow-ups on every single transaction. Furthermore, the technique offers the advantage of offering increased convenience for the third parties, such as banks and suppliers, partaking in the audit process. However, it is important to note that this approach may not be as effective in situations where a high level of risk is present or when the client’s systems do not consistently demonstrate strong internal controls. In these scenarios, alternative audit methods, such as positive confirmation, may offer a greater level of assurance.


Negative confirmation is a method used by auditors to obtain evidence about the absence of discrepancies or errors in a company’s financial records. In this method, the auditor sends a request to a Company’s customers or vendors asking for a response only if there is a disagreement with the information presented. Here are three real-world examples of situations where negative confirmation may be used: 1. ABC Bank: An auditor working with ABC Bank wants to verify the accuracy of the bank’s loan records. The auditor sends negative confirmation requests to a sample of the bank’s customers who have taken out loans. The customers are asked to respond only if there is a disagreement with the loan balance mentioned in the request. By not receiving any responses, the auditor can take this as a sign that the loan records are accurate or do not have material discrepancies. 2. XYZ Retail Store: XYZ Retail Store is being audited, and the auditor wants to confirm the accuracy of the store’s accounts payable balances. They send negative confirmation requests to a sample of the company’s suppliers, asking them to respond only if they disagree with the amount owed to them as per the request. If the suppliers do not respond, this can be considered as evidence that the accounts payable records are materially accurate. 3. EF Manufacturing: An auditor working with EF Manufacturing wants to confirm the accuracy of the company’s accounts receivable records. They send negative confirmation requests to a sample of the company’s customers, asking them to respond only if there is a discrepancy in their outstanding invoice amounts. If the customers do not respond, this can be taken as a sign that the company’s accounts receivable records are accurate, and there are no considerable discrepancies.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Negative Confirmation?
Negative Confirmation is an auditing process where customers or clients are requested to respond only if they find any discrepancies or issues with the information provided in the statement they received. This process is employed by auditors to validate the accuracy of a company’s financial records.
When is Negative Confirmation typically used?
Negative Confirmation is used when the risk of material misstatement is low, the auditor has confidence in the company’s internal control environment, and the expected response rate is high. It is generally used for entities with a large number of small balances or transactions.
What are the benefits of using Negative Confirmation?
The advantages of using Negative Confirmation include reduced administrative burden, cost-effectiveness, and faster response time. Since only discrepancies require a response, the process tends to be more efficient than positive confirmation.
How does Negative Confirmation differ from Positive Confirmation?
Both methods are used by auditors to confirm the accuracy of financial records. In Negative Confirmation, the client is asked to respond only in case of any discrepancy or disagreement, while Positive Confirmation requires clients to respond regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the information provided.
What are the potential drawbacks of Negative Confirmation?
Some of the drawbacks of Negative Confirmation include the possibility of low response rates, undetected errors or fraud, and non-responses being treated as correct information. This makes it a less reliable method for confirming account balances compared to Positive Confirmation in certain situations.
How do auditors decide whether to use Negative Confirmation or Positive Confirmation?
Auditors assess factors such as the degree of control risk, the likelihood of material misstatements, the quality of the client’s record-keeping, and the perceived reliability of responses to decide which method to use. If there are concerns about the internal controls, risk of errors, or doubts about response reliability, auditors often opt for Positive Confirmation.
Are there any regulatory requirements for using Negative Confirmation?
The use of Negative Confirmation is subject to the discretion of auditors and the auditing standards they follow, such as the Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) or the International Standards on Auditing (ISA). These standards provide guidance and requirements on selecting the appropriate confirmation method based on the risk assessment and audit objectives.

Related Finance Terms

  • Auditing Procedures
  • Accounts Receivable Confirmation
  • Positive Confirmation
  • External Confirmation
  • Risk Assessment

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More