Deter the Inside Job. 5 Ways to Avert Employee Theft and Fraud. Stave off white-collar crime in your workplace with these precautionary measures.

By Keith Mueller

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whether it's divulging a company's intellectual property to another party, forging fraudulent checks or stealing merchandise right off the shelves, employee theft and fraud are among the most serious threats to the success of businesses today.

The 2014 Global Fraud Study released in May by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners determined businesses can lose on average 5 percent of revenue each year to fraud, pegged at nearly $3.7 trillion across the globe. The study also reports that more than 1 in 5 of the nearly 1,500 cases analyzed in more than 100 countries had employees walking out the door with at least $1 million in cash.

Related: 7 Ways Your Employees Are Stealing From You

Lack of employee trust and job satisfaction coupled with careless hiring and supervision can -- and has -- led to vulnerable businesses that are ripe for internal theft and fraud.

Implementing internal and external controls and systems, as described below, can help a company reduce the risk of theft and hopefully catch any would-be rogue employees.

1. Conduct pre-employment background checks.

A strong hiring process is critical to the health and longevity of a business in more ways than one may think. Business owners must do due diligence when hiring a new employee, arranging for background checks and contacting references. This will help weed out a lot of the potential rogue employees from the outset.

2. Have two (or more) employees oversee the financial system.

Assign more than one person to keep track of bookkeeping, as theft is more likely to happen if only one set of eyes are on the books.

Related: 4 Kinds of Fraud That Could Destroy Your Business

3. Limit employee access to back-office information.

Employees should have access only to the data and documents they need to do their job. If someone doesn't need access to bill paying and the payroll, don't furnish it. Put password-protection controls on all documents or folders that only the top managers should have access to.

4. Set up spot-checking audits.

Perform random, unannounced reviews of various transactions -- within the inventory and accounting departments as well as in the payroll and petty cash areas -- to confirm their legitimacy.

5. Outsource functions.

An employee is 15 times more likely than a nonemployee to steal from an employer, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, so outsource the bookkeeping function altogether if you can.

Although there is no true way to prevent theft at a company, following these security measures can significantly decrease the opportunity for employees to steal.

Related: 4 Ways to Maximize Your Loss Prevention Strategies

Wavy Line
Keith Mueller

CEO of Bookkeeping Express Enterprises

Keith Mueller is CEO of Bookkeeping Express Enterprises, providing cloud-based business bookkeeping services. Previously, he served on the company's board of directors and was a 27-year managing partner of Accenture.


Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

'All Hell Is Going to Break Loose': Barbara Corcoran Issues Warning About Real Estate Market, Interest Rates

The "Shark Tank" star appeared on FOX Business' "The Claman Countdown" this week.

Business Plans

How to Change Careers: A Step-by-Step Guide

Want to make a career change without compromising your finances or future? Check out this step-by-step guide on how to change careers to learn more.


How I Made Money From My Book Without Selling a Single Copy

Did you know you can make money with a book without selling copies? Here's exactly how I did it.

Growing a Business

Entrepreneur+ Subscribers-Only Call | June 8: Discover How These 2 Founders Turned Their Side Hustle into a Million-Dollar Lifestyle Brand

Learn how you can transform your personal brand into a thriving business empire with co-founders of The Skinny Confidential


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.