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Avoiding Financial Disaster -Tips to prevent trouble down the road

All businesses run the risk of employee theft. A common thread is that someone in charge of finances gets caught “borrowing.” Sometimes the theft is reimbursed, but many times it's not and your facility/department ends up holding the bag. Given the right opportunities, even the most unlikely employees can succumb to temptation.

How do you minimize your risk and avert potential theft? The following steps will help protect your facility by minimizing temptation, and they will work as a system of check and balances to prevent errors and safeguard assets.
  • Mail bank statements to someone not involved with finance.

Cash, coins and checks risky assets. In the case of checks, banks may not catch forged signatures, so bank statements should be sent to your home or to someone not involved with bookkeeping. Employees will think twice before forging a signature on a check to him/herself if they know you receive cancelled checks.

  • Require two employees for bank deposits.

If an employee steals, you may not be able to recover the funds by the time they are caught. Two people making deposits minimizes this risk.

  • Don't delay monthly bank reconciliations.

Bank reconciliations compare the bank's cash balance with the organization's books. They are the best way to detect errors, identify checks that may have been lost and find discrepancies in deposits and disbursements. Knowing reconciliations are conducted monthly can deter some thieves.

  • Require two people for cash counts.

Have two employees count real cash and coins to avoid temptation and errors. Banks can make mistakes too, so having a second person witness the count or conduct a second count is beneficial.

  • Don't keep petty cash in a desk drawer

Desk drawers are the first place thieves look for money. Petty cash should be in a safer place and each time it is used, a receipt should be put in the envelope or box, identifying what the cash was used for and how much is left.

  • Use a pre-numbered receipt book for all money received.

A receipt should be given at the time money was received and a duplicate copy should stay with your business. Pre-numbering allows you to identify missing receipts and perhaps missing cash/checks. Knowing that a customer will be given a receipt may be a deterrent to pocket funds. Receipts can be compared to bank statements or deposit slips.

  • Additions/changes to vendors should be reported and reviewed

Most accounting software can provide you with reports on all vendor additions and changes during a month. Someone other than an Accounts Payable employee should review it for strange additions, i.e. someone's Mom or an unknown business. This will minimize the risk of paying fictitious businesses and may deter unauthorized payments. Don't count on picking up all clues by signing checks

  • Additions/changes to payroll should be reported and reviewed

Most payroll systems and outside processors give you reports on changes and additions to payroll. This step is important to avoid paying fictitious employees and giving unauthorized raises. Ask for “change reports” and review them for anything unusual.

  • Tag equipment and conduct periodic counts.

All equipment should be tagged and inventoried by location, serial number, and date acquired. This information provides a record of the assets that your employees are responsible for. Inquire about missing items during the periodical count. It can be easy to “misplace” and forget about a laptop. If you have no tracking mechanism, no one will be accountable for objects that disappear. Tagging equipment and periodic counts are also a great way to ensure you have an updated list of valuables for insurance purposes.

  • Fidelity insurance is a must

Insurance in general is the popular way to minimize losses and fidelity insurance should be part the package. The organization should have good enough records to prove that embezzlement has occurred. If no controls and no records are available, it will be hard to detect fraud in time, maximizing your loss and making insurance companies very uncomfortable. Insurance package is a must, but it may be too little, too late to avoid financial disaster.

These simple, inexpensive preventative measures should help you run a better business. They can protect your facility - and save you thousands.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Man Freed From Laundry Machine

ENGLAND — Firefighters freed a man trapped in a laundry after he tried to pull some sheets that were stuck from a folding machine. The machine had not been turned off when he began trying the free the sheets. The employee’s arm became trapped in the machine but the firefighters worked quickly cutting the machine’s belt to free the man. He was rushed to the hospital where he was stabilized.