Every employer would like to think that none of his or her employees would commit fraud, but sadly, it does happen. Challenging personal situations in some families and increased employee access to company records through technology have contributed to a rise in employee theft and fraud.
Employee fraud can take many forms, including misappropriation of funds (such as forging checks); financial statement fraud (recording fake expenses and/or revenues) and other sorts of corruption such as accepting bribes in exchange for things like discounts to customers.
There are some warning signs to watch for:
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Gambling problems
- Working late hours after other employees have left
- Sudden purchases of expensive items above salary level
- Objections to inventory, audit or procedural changes
You can do your due diligence as an employer to minimize your risk of being a victim of employee fraud. Here are a few precautions you can take:
- Screen new employees thoroughly, including a background check. Check all references and speak with previous employers.
- Thoroughly review the company’s code of ethics with new hires, emphasizing you have zero tolerance of employee fraud.
- Review your company’s financial records often and conduct inspections without giving notice to employees who handle financial transactions.
- Encourage employees to report instances of employee fraud that they witness.
In addition to the above measures, a commercial crime insurance policy could help protect your business assets against employee theft. Such a policy could protect your business against cyber fraud, theft/robbery and other types of employee fraud by limiting your direct financial losses, paying for legal representation and reimbursing you for damage to reputation.