“Small businesses don’t have the Security Department enjoyed by large corporations, so if the bookkeeper doesn’t spot the fraud, the business takes a hit,” explained Steve Sahlein, co-president of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) in a prepared statement.
In fact, many small firms are simply swept under by the $50 billion in check fraud and $1 billion in credit card fraud that occur annually. The AIPB offers a training course on avoiding check and credit card fraud that includes the following tips.
To avoid check fraud, employees should be trained to look for:
- Any check without at least one perforated edge.
- Signs of alterations or erasures, especially in the signature or amounts
- A rough texture may indicate possible erasures
- Faded colors may indicate chemical bleaching
- A glossy, crayonish appearance or any lack of detail or sharpness (indicates counterfeiting)
- The absence of a background design on the check
- The absence of either a bank logo or bank name in the regular lettering
- The absence of the bank address
- Routing numbers (at the bottom of a check in computer style type) in proper, dull, non-reflective ink.
Employees should be trained not to accept MasterCard or Visa cards unless:
- The numbers on the signature panel slant left and match the numbers on the front of the card; and
- The embossed account numbers on a Visa card begin with a 4 and is 13 or 16 digits or
- The embossed account numbers on a MasterCard begin with a 5 and is 16 digits.
American Express cards should not be accepted unless:
- The account number begins with 34 or 37 and is 15 digits
- The account number on the front and back match; and
- The signature panel has wavy black lines and is not plain white or smudged (altered card).
“We see fraud training for bookkeepers as preventive health,” Sahlein says. “If they don’t see their company’s chest pains and shortness of breath – and take the proper action – the consequences may be fatal.”