3According to the U.S. Commerce Department, employee crime costs American businesses more than $50 billion a year - that's "billion with a 'B" - and three out of four employees have stolen from their employers at least once.

To help prevent a fox from getting into your hen house, a leading risk management group recommends these guidelines:

  1. Screen job candidates. You might discover that a potential employee was fired from another job for stealing. A thorough background check can give you hard evidence when doing an interview. Look for discrepancies between what the candidate says and what's on paper; too many differences will point to a problem.
  2. Reduce the temptation to steal. Be careful when making operational changes. The thief might become familiar with the change and believe that they have specialized and private information they can use to their advantage. To avoid this danger, let everyone know about new procedures. Also, lock and bar all windows in warehouses or storerooms, create employee sign-ins in these areas, and never leave anything lying around to be picked up easily.
  3. Protect monetary assets. Thieves sometimes write checks to ghost employees or vendors and use the money for their own finances. Separating accounts payable from accounts receivable will reduce the chances of such a fiasco. Also, if Jim in sales never, ever takes a vacation, something might be amiss; he might be snooping around or doing something besides genuine hard work.
  4. Schedule periodic audits. If this isn't possible, have an outside party review your accounting and bookkeeping practices.
  5. Create a zero-tolerance policy. Potential in-house thieves won't be as inclined to steal if they know that they're risking their job.
  6. Investigate suspected fraud. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners ( offers expertise in this field.

For an in-depth review and analysis of your in-house security precautions, please contact our risk management specialists.

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