Skip to main content

Preventing Business Fraud

As with your personal information, keeping your business' sensitive information secure is critical. Here are some ways you can prevent fraud in your company:

  • Password-protect laptops and encrypt sensitive files.
  • Protect passwords at work – don't write them down and leave them on your desk.
  • Install, use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer or network.
  • Use a firewall to prevent hackers from invading your computer/network.
  • Keep your computer/network up-to-date with software security patches.
  • Educate employees not to respond to or click links within suspicious e-mails as they can potentially infect their computers with keyloggers or other malicious software.
  • Protect statements that contain account numbers.
  • Conduct thorough background checks on applicants during the hiring process, especially prior to granting employees access to sensitive information or purchasing authorization.
  • Segregation of duties: no employee should be responsible for both recording and processing a transaction.
    • Set a limit to the number of people who can authorize purchases.
    • Set a dollar limit to the amount each person can authorize.
    • The person who keeps the books should not be the person who reconciles the statements.
    • The person who opens the mail and prepares deposit tickets should not be the person who keeps the books.
  • Run random audits or have a third party audit your books once a year, in particular for bookkeepers or employees who have access to financial records and documents.
  • Make sure all checks, purchase orders and invoices are numbered consecutively, and regularly check for missing documents.
  • Personally follow up on Customer complaints that they have not received credit for payments.
  • Check safety:
    • Use a "for deposit only" stamp on all incoming checks to prevent an employee from cashing them.
    • Require all checks above a nominal amount to have two signatures.
    • Never sign a blank check.
    • Sign every payroll check personally.
    • Avoid using a signature stamp.
  • Small business owners should take the time to review accounts payable by checking cash disbursements and payments. A very common scheme to look out for is billing-scheme fraud where an employee sets up fictitious "phantom" vendors.
  • Institute a "clean desk policy" to keep sensitive and/or customer information out of view.