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An Ounce of Prevention: Safeguarding Your Business Against Fraud

When it comes to the security of your company, an employee can be your greatest asset or your biggest risk. Employee fraud is a constant concern for business owners, but few know how to prevent it. Stop worrying and start planning! Design your own fraud prevention blueprint with these simple guidelines.  

Many companies rely on insurance to restore the financial losses caused by employee theft, but you don’t have to wait for misfortune to happen. Jump in today and tackle these key areas to create your own fraud
prevention plan. 

Secure Your Systems

  • Update security software and operating systems regularly.
  • Install encryption software on computers and mobile devices to protect personnel files, financial data, and product information.
  • Invest in computer monitoring software that will alert you to suspicious activities by employees, such as transferring large files via email.  
  • Change passwords and require employees to change theirs twice a year. 

Clarify Processes

  • Separate areas of responsibility that could present a conflict of interest, like accounts payable and accounts receivable. 
  • Perform weekly sales audits and periodic surprise audits of accounts and inventories. 
  • Use purchase orders and verify all incoming orders. 
  • Use online banking to reconcile your account daily and consider using a transaction verification service through your financial institution. 

Manage Employees

  • Pre-screen candidates by running background and criminal checks. 
  • Have staff sign off on understanding both your code of conduct and your strict policy against unethical behavior. 
  • Keep an open-door policy and install an anonymous tip line to report suspected fraud.
  • Know your employees and watch for new behaviors, like working late, “losing” files, and being secretive.

Three Faces of Fraud

The most common type of fraud, asset misappropriation, involves employees who abuse their positions to steal from a business. Outright theft of money and inventory, billing and payroll schemes, check tampering, embezzlement, and theft of company data are all examples of asset misappropriation.

Less common but more costly is fraud by bribery, which entails a company insider gaining undue advantage in business matters. Examples include vendor kickbacks, conflicts of interest, extortion, and theft of proprietary information.   

Although uncommon, financial statement fraud accounts for the greatest losses for businesses. Sometimes referred to as “cooking the books,” this type of deceit involves the misrepresentation of revenue, expenses, assets, liabilities, and reserves. 

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