Protect Your Business from Fraud: Keep Your Financial Information Secure
Fraud: It’s a Bigger Problem Than You Think
Your growing business has to fend off many different kinds of threats: competition, economic changes, and the rising costs of goods or human resources—the list can be long. But one large threat to your business can be a silent, looming killer—fraud.
Fraud comes in a variety of forms, including credit card and check fraud as well as employee theft. Some of the most common types of employee fraud include stealing assets either directly or through kickbacks from third parties. Some specific examples include: taking bribes from customers/suppliers, claiming undue overtime, stealing company secrets, or embellishing an expense account.
Regardless of the nature of the fraudulent activity, the propensity for loss is tremendous. According to a survey of small and medium businesses conducted in October 2007, more than a quarter of business owners have been the victim of fraud.
Fraud can threaten the stability of a business by resulting in significant financial losses. According to the survey, business owners who were victims of fraud had lost an average of $38,000 each—and four in ten had lost more than $50,000.
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) reports the typical business will lose an average of 6 percent of revenues from employee theft alone. The ACFE Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse reveals that small businesses suffer disproportionate losses (compared to large corporations) due to the limited resources they have to devote to detecting fraud. Unfortunately, your own employees can significantly harm or even destroy your business. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey reports that one-third of business bankruptcies are due to employee theft.
The good news is that business owners can—and are—fighting back. According to the October 2007 survey, business owners are starting to combat fraud, with 66 percent saying they have taken actions to protect their business against fraud in the past five years. It is imperative for you to join these businesses and protect yourself from fraud.
Fraud exists in many forms. Both your employees and third parties can defraud your company. In many fraudulent scenarios, a company’s employees work with outside parties to steal assets or company secrets. Unfortunately, employee fraud is one of the most difficult to detect and can occur right under your watchful eye.
According to research conducted by the National Small Business Administration, business owners that reported fraud were not usually the first to notice the fraudulent activity. Instead, their banks tended to make the discovery after reviewing financial information provided to them by the business’ owners.
Employee fraud can take on many forms, including:
• Stealing money or goods
• Falsifying checks or payroll, including creation of phantom employees
• Misusing company credit card accounts
• Taking bribes or kickbacks from suppliers or customers
• Claiming overtime when it is not due
• Embellishing expense accounts
• Providing false information about the company to creditorsor investors
• Stealing and selling company trade secrets
• Giving friends or relatives unauthorized discounts on company merchandise or services