As the song about the December holidays goes, "It's the most wonderful time of the year." But it's not so wonderful for employers that are unprepared for crime risks. The year-end holidays are typically exceedingly busy, with employees racing to complete projects and, for some businesses, lots of temporary workers hired to help serve customers. Here are five tips to help businesses mitigate the risks of theft, fraud and other crimes. 1. "Sweethearting" can break your heart — or bank. In this form of retail fraud, workers ring up purchases at steep discounts or for free to friends or family members. Sales are ubiquitous at the holidays, but don't let your profits fly out the door. Video surveillance and software programs that detect discrepancies and unusual patterns make it much harder for employees to commit or enable theft.2. Make a list of temps and check it twice. Temporary employees can be a huge help for businesses, but be sure to conduct background checks. Even simple checks can screen out the potential for pilfering or, as it's known in the retail trade, inventory shrinkage.3. 'Tis the season for more scamming. Employees who are feeling taxed with overtime hours are more susceptible to scam artists, who know that the year-end period is a time when many workers just want to get requests off their desks. Social engineering is a risk that businesses face all year, but expect to see more attempts at this time of year. Train employees to recognize scams and red flags, and to verify requests before responding in e-mail or on the phone.4. Be careful with logins, or yule regret it. Account takeovers are unfortunately common risks, as more strangers may be present in the workplace to pick up or deliver shipments. We have seen cases where criminals impersonated delivery people and cruised around offices looking for information to use in phishing or malware scams — or to snag the login and passwords that some employees jot down on Post-It notes. Know who is in your building, why they're there, and don't let them wander unaccompanied.5. Avoid the ghost of payrolls present. Payroll fraud can be a problem, when businesses ramp up their hiring. Some hiring managers may add "ghost employees" to the payroll who don't actually do the work. To control this kind of fraud, employers can use software to spot abnormal patterns. Gregory W. Bangs is XL Catlin's Crime Regional Leader for North America insurance. He has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. Before joining XL Catlin, he managed one of the industry’s largest crime insurance operations.He has held various management, underwriting and product development roles in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and France.
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