Financial fraud can devastate a small business. An employee who has access to the accounting software records can go a long time before the crime is discovered. Here are nine small business tips you can take to minimize the chances of it happening in your business.
1. Create individual user accounts in your accounting software for each employee. Creating an account for each person allows you to limit an employee’s access to the data to only what they need to do their job. It also allows you to track who makes changes to the database. Make sure employees do not share login information, and require robust passwords that have to be frequently changed.
2. Review user accounts to ensure they don’t have permissions they shouldn’t. When an employee changes duties, remove any unneeded permissions. If they leave the company, have their account closed or removed immediately, especially if they have remote access.
3. Encrypt financial and payroll information. The lack of data encryption is a problem for businesses of all sizes. In 2011, several websites belonging to electronic giant Sony were hacked and the criminals who claimed responsibility gained access to more than a million accounts with unencrypted passwords. Make sure your accounting and payroll software have strong encryption. If the information is not encrypted, anyone with access to the database file can read it.
4. Offer direct deposit. By depositing payroll checks directly into your employees’ bank accounts, your business will write fewer checks. This reduces the risk of checks being lost or having an account number stolen. It also eliminates the problem of dishonest employees making more than one copy of the check and depositing it into different bank accounts.
5. Use electronic or automated clearing house (ACH) payments for vendors and other suppliers instead of mailing checks. Again, this reduces the number of checks your business must handle and prevents fraud.
6. Have an accountant outside the company periodically review your accounting records. Employees will be more honest if they know the data is being monitored by an impartial third-party.
7. Get your business statements and canceled checks directly from the bank and review them before they go to the person who handles the finances.
8. Make it easy for employees to anonymously report fraud. Reporting fraud could be as simple as keeping a lockbox with a slot in the lid. Investigate any tips you receive, but be mindful of disgruntled employees making false accusations.
9. Trust, but verify. Small business owners tend to trust their employees more because they know and work with them. Don’t treat everyone like they are criminals, but don’t let your relationship with your employees get in the way of running your business. When small businesses are hit by fraud, the culprit is often the most unlikely person on the staff.
Cougar Mountain’s Denali Accounting software can help you put the right internal controls and processes in place to minimize fraud. Ask your Cougar Mountain Software expert to provide information about our Red Flag Reports and other techniques your business can use to reduce fraud with Denali Accounting software.