Protecting your assets from fraud, theft and crime is always a top priority for your business. Crime and fraud are believed to cost U.S. businesses a little more than five cents of every sales dollar.(1)
Many businesses, especially young, small businesses, lack the internal resources, expertise and systems necessary to adequately mitigate these risks. Consider the following systems for better control over when and where your business spends money and who spends it. These systems also help businesses recover from fraud, theft and disaster.
1. Collection Systems. They control and streamline how your business collects, handles and deposits money. Many banks have online services and tools that allow you to collect money electronically and eliminate the possibility of false invoicing, a top source of cash fraud. You can secure and control deposits electronically using digital scanning of checks, merchant services and electronic billing. You can also:
Accept credit card payments rather than checks or cash
Collect payments via electronic automated clearing house (ACH) transfers to reduce receivables and protect yourself
2. Financial Control Systems. These systems allow you to track, control and protect your cash from fraud and crime online, on demand, at any time. You can regularly back up and lock up your information assets. In addition, you can back up and password protect important data about customers, as well as financial and intellectual property, using disks and remote hard drives. Other tips related to financial control systems include:
Store your backup information off site.
Get data breach/cyber security insurance. You can and should take extensive steps to protect your software systems from intrusion.
Use technology to turn your accountant into a “virtual CFO,” who can quickly generate the reports you need to measure and manage your cash.
3. Financial Automation Systems. You can automate routine financial tasks, giving you the leverage and information you need to combat fraud and theft without stretching your limited resources. Tips for automation include:
Automate cash reconciliations. If owners had time to reconcile cash daily, identifying fraud early and stopping it would be easy.
Automate and streamline financials. Most businesses have accounting software packages that automatically generate detailed financial reports that help them track and audit for theft and fraud. Download your financial information from online accounts to accurately input the information you need to regularly generate these types of tracking reports.
4. Expense Management Systems. These systems give you the necessary tools to control, manage and track your spending online in minutes. Your financial institution can help limit employee purchase authority by establishing clear entitlements, authorizations and spending limits. You also can automate and control these expense-management tasks easily from your computer, using basic online banking features and payment-card products. A final tip for controlling expenses:
Track your expenses online. By storing information about all your accounts—checking, business, credit card and personal—the best banks make it easy to set, compare and analyze monthly budgets for you and your business.
SunTrust and the National Small Business Association Survey of 511 business owners, 2007.
Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, ACFE, 2010 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
In your business, every time someone physically handles a check or cash, it increases the opportunity for fraud. To mitigate this risk, consider collecting money electronically — a safer, cheaper, faster and easier way to collect.
Small business owners who lack the time or resources to keep track of their money are more susceptible to fraud and crime. Automating your finances is a practical way to overcome these resource constraints and more effectively protect your business.