Billions of dollars are lost each year due to fraud. Fraud can affect a business of any size, and small businesses have proved to be alarmingly vulnerable. While most people with whom your business engages conduct themselves with integrity, just a few instances of fraudulent activity can cost your company thousands of dollars. The most common (and costly) types of fraud that plague small businesses include: inventory theft, cash theft, fraudulent invoicing and billing, payroll manipulation, and check tampering.
Lack of internal controls greatly increases the risk of fraud for small businesses. Since small businesses have small staffs, many tasks need to be accomplished by a few people and the necessary oversight is not always in place. Having rigorously-followed invoicing and bookkeeping routines, checks on the system, and limited employee access to funds and financial data ensure better financial security. Authorizing a limited number of people to complete tasks—and making clear who is responsible for which aspects of financial management—help enhance accountability and reduce opportunities for people to take advantage.
Check tampering that involves unauthorized use of company checks to access funds or to change the amount of money being transacted can cost a small business thousands per incident. Check tampering is often an internal problem, and can be prevented or reduced with a few simple safeguards.
Having your checkbooks lying around or stored in insecure drawers or cabinets creates an opportunity for checks to become misplaced or misused. Your company checks bear your business logo and are an important document for representing your company and transacting business—they should not be accessible to just anyone. If you use traditional bank checks and checkbooks, keep them secured safely in a locked drawer that only you and a designated employee or bookkeeper can access.
Online check printing adds security to your check-issuing process because you print each check on demand and therefore never need to store blank, ready-to-use business checks around your office. Checkeeper offers secure online check printing that allows you to print checks right from your home or office printer only when you need them. Checkeeper is HIPAA compliant and uses the same level of secure encryption that banks use.
When selecting the right check printing platform to assist your business, researching the company’s features is vital to making the right choice. Avoid services that access your funds or require you to move them into a separate account. Checkeeper enables you to print customized checks according to any template or design you prefer and automatically formats the account and routing numbers in the MICR-encoded font that banks require—without ever touching your money.
Too many hands on the books can lead to errors and increase opportunities for fraud. You can enhance financial security by setting your user permissions to authorize access for only designated, trusted employees. Checkeeper allows you to set your user permissions according to your company’s needs, allowing only you, your virtual bookkeeper, or your select team members to access your account, and you can limit their approved actions on that account however you like. You can also trace any transaction back to the user who initiated it.
Payroll schemes that involve issuing fraudulent paychecks or purposely falsifying payment amounts, attendance, or hours worked can plague a business whose payroll processing is not closely monitored. Fortunately, online payroll software providers have come along to offer affordable payroll and benefit management for companies of all sizes. For those employees who are paid by paper check, consider an online check-printing add-on to your payroll provider that prints paychecks and pay stubs and then automatically imports the data into your payroll processing software with no additional data entry required.
Reviewing your check registry every week or month is the best way to spot unauthorized charges when they occur. Reconciliation is an important step in your bookkeeping cycle, allowing you to make sure all balances match and all expenses are accounted for. Checkeeper accounts come with a secure online registry that can be searched by any check field when you need to track a check. The check registry can also be exported in whole or in part any time that you need to review a full or date-specific history of all checks created.