Running a business is hard enough without being defrauded of your hard earned profits. Unfortunately, fraud happens in small business more often then you would think - As an entrepreneur, you must be prepared for the unexpected.
Employees and customers are just a few people who might take advantage of your small business. Recognize types of fraud in business and learn how to protect yourself.
Here are a few types of common small business fraud that may come your way.
Identity theft could cost your business thousands of dollars. Criminals could steal your business’s identity and use it to access your credit.
People might get their hands on things like financial statements, bank statements, or your federal tax identification numbers. It’s also possible to have information taken from your computer.
You could become liable for Identity Theft of your client's sensitive information if not stored correctly.
To prevent identity theft, make sure you keep your statements and sensitive client information secure. If you have physical copies, keep them locked in filing cabinets that only you can access. For digital copies, make sure you use difficult usernames and passwords that are different from those used for systems which employees can access.
You might also consider paying employees via direct deposit instead of paychecks. With direct deposit, you put the employee’s wages directly into their account. That way, you do not need to pass out checks with sensitive information. Some states allow employers to enforce mandatory direct deposit.
Payroll schemes are twice as common in small businesses as opposed to large companies, according to the ACFE. There are several ways that payroll fraud could occur in your business.
Employees might ask for pay advances without paying them back. Or, employees might add additional hours on their timesheets that they never worked. Employees could also get co-workers to clock in for them even if they aren’t at work.
Do background checks on all employees before you hire them. And, you should audit payroll accounts so you can catch fraudulent behavior early on.
Use SaaS payroll services so you can approve payroll before you pay employees and keep track of their pay rate and hours within your system.
Because there’s so much illegal cash circulating in the United States, you might come across fake bills. Money fraud can happen without you or the customer even noticing. But, counterfeit money is worthless when you go to deposit the cash at the bank.
The most common counterfeit bills are high-valued, like $100 bills. If you accept counterfeit money, you won’t receive any revenue from the sale. Worse, you could end up giving real currency as change for a fake bill.
Protect your small business from money fraud by learning how to tell if money is fake. There are different features you should be able to spot on legal currency, like raised printing, microprinting, watermarks, and color-shifting ink. And, teach your employees to check cash before accepting it.
The majority of small businesses that sell goods have experienced return fraud at some point.
Some customers might purchase a product, use it, then return it even though nothing is wrong with it. Or, you might have people steal products from your business and attempt to return them to make a profit.
Return fraud can be damaging to your business. You might not be able to wipe out all return fraud, but you can limit it based on your policies.
To prevent return fraud, you can require receipts. And, you could tighten your policies so that customers only receive store credit after a certain time period. Although you want customers to be happy, you also don’t want your business to lose money from fraud.
Workers’ compensation fraud is another type of small business fraud you could become victim to as an employer.
As a business owner, most states require the purchase of workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance pays your employees if they become injured or ill at work.
There are different ways workers’ compensation fraud can occur, so you need to be careful. Employees might get injured outside of work and say they got the injury at your business. Or, employees might make up an illness or injury.
How do you protect your business from workers’ compensation fraud? You need to document everything, keep accurate records, and look out for signs of fake injuries.