The convenience of today’s technology has unfortunately opened up countless new avenues for fraud. Many small to medium sized business owners might believe their business accounts and assets to be safe. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, however, smaller businesses typically employ fewer protections against fraud and, as a result, suffer the greatest comparable losses. Protecting your small business from fraud should be at the top of your priority list. The following tips are ten simple ways to prevent your business from falling victim to fraud.
1. Sound Bookkeeping and Accounting Systems
Establishing accurate bookkeeping and accounting systems will help you detect any fraudulent activity in a timely manner. Keep business and personal accounts separate and record all transactions at least weekly. Reconciling bank and credit card statements as soon as they are received will help you detect fraudulent transactions before it is too late to recover losses.
2. Password Policy
Institute a password policy to be followed by all employees. Passwords should be changed at least every 90 days and not be written down. The strongest passwords do not use words found in the dictionary, include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and at least one symbol. Also encourage employees to avoid the use of important dates or names in passwords.
3. Anti-Virus and Firewall
Invest in a high-quality commercial anti-virus software to protect your company’s network from malware, worms, and viruses. Viruses will not only slow down your entire system, but also put sensitive information at risk. Make sure your anti-virus software is kept up to date by always installing the latest updates and running computer scans regularly.
Ensure every electronic device plugged into your network has a firewall to prevent cyber criminals from entering the network from the outside. This includes all computers, fax machines, alarm systems, telephones, or other smart devices.
4. Back Up Files
In the event of a security breach, your company’s electronic files could all be lost. Invest in a simple, secure backup software to prevent this from happening. Cloud technology has brought about a number of secure and affordable options for automatic hard drive backups.
5. Designate a Computer
Designate a computer to be used for financial purposes only. Not accessing e-mail, social media, or other internet sites will help prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your company’s financial information.
6. Protect the Plastic
Be extremely careful with your credit and debit card numbers. Do not use cards to pay for meals if the server must run the card out of your sight. Do not disclose the numbers to employees or businesses. Instead, utilize your bank’s bill payment system to pay bills. Set up a secure post office box for receiving bills, bank statements, or any other mail which could include personal information.
7. Secure Document Disposal
The common criminal is not above dumpster diving; never throw documents or electronic devices containing personal information in the trash. Take advantage of a professional document destruction company to ensure the secure disposal of all sensitive documents. Before throwing out old smart phones, computer hard drives, or copy machines, make sure they have been wiped clean of all information or destroyed.
8. Staff Training
Having security systems in place will do no good for your business if your employees have not received proper training. Make sure all staff is aware and familiar with your company’s security policies. Educate them about the risks of not following proper procedures and offer periodic re-training on policy.
9. Employee Background Checks
Unfortunately, not all security threats come from outside the office; managers can never really know what kind of a person they are hiring. Conducting background checks on employees can assist managers in making judgment calls about applicants. Although background checks will require an additional expense, they are well worth keeping your business safe and your peace of mind secure.
Although small businesses can establish security systems and procedures to take precautions against fraud, no business is ever completely secure. Every day criminals get smarter and companies fall victim to more fraud. Consider investing in an insurance policy to protect your business from losses due to a breach in your security system.