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Last week I covered two of the four top ways people steal from you. This week I cover two more ways.

3. Use Signature Stamps
Three partners operated a business. One was focused on sales, one on operations, and one did the books. It was the perfect start up because each manger was focused on a critical area of business.

They decided that two signatures were necessary for any check that was written on the company bank account. The thinking was that two signatures would make all owners aware of money going out of the company.

One of the owners started to have health problems and was not present in the business as much. The partners decided to have a signature stamp made of his signature and gave it to the partner who was responsible for the financial segment of the business.

This was the wrong person to give the signature stamp to! Why? This was the partner that was embezzling at least $50,000 a year from the business.

Here’s how to steal: Whenever he wrote a company check to himself, he had two signatures: his and the signature stamp. He coded the check to whatever he felt would not be noticed. Fifty thousand dollars is less than $1,000 per week. Usually he coded it to things that would not be noticed because the expenses were very large as a rule.
Do not use signature stamps. If you require two signatures on checks, they should be two signatures, not a signature and a signature stamp.
Also, review financial statements every month. They trusted the financial partner and never looked at the statements each month. Had they done so, they might have seen the penalty expenses and questioned them.

4. Your Suppliers Steal from You
A business owner was reviewing his bank statement and noticed a copy of a check to his auto repair shop that seemed higher than he remembered.
The next morning he brought the bank statement to the bookkeeper and asked her to pull the back up for the check to the auto repair shop that we used.
The invoice from the auto repair company showed $49. He signed a check for the $49. The amount taken from the company’s bank account on the bank statement was $449. The microfiche picture on the bank statement showed $449.

Someone in the auto repair shop had altered the check and added $400 to the check!

The owner took the bank statement, the actual invoice for $49 and the check stub showing the check for $49 to the bank. They credited his account for the $400 and went after the auto repair shop for the funds.

Most of us never imagine that our vendors will steal from us. Yet, vendors’ employees can steal just as easily as yours can. Had the owner not reviewed the bank statement and remembered the amount of the check that he had signed, the thief would have gotten away with $400. It is easy to do. Credit the owner’s account for the $49, which was owed, deposit the check for $449 and take the difference. The owner of the auto shop would never know. If in the unlikely event he caught it, the employee could say that it was an error and show him the original invoice!

Always ask your bank to send your bank statements home. And, look at your on-line bank balances at least every other day. This is the first line of defense against embezzlers. Look at the microfiche copies of the checks. You signed the checks. If something doesn’t look right, you can spot it and ask the bookkeeper for backup.
Another great reason for sending your bank statements home is you see all of the bounced checks, late payments, etc. associated with your bank account. It’s your hard earned cash. Watch what is going on with it.

Discover more of the 50 ways people steal from you and what you can do about it, in my book or audio at www.TheCouragetobeProfitable.com.

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