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Congratulations, you survived the roller coaster of the building and growing your business. It’s important to continue with a growth mindset, however, today’s business environment requires constant reinvention to stay competitive. As you enter the Manage for Profit or maturity stage of your business life cycle, cash flow and profitability create a solid foundation. From a track record of annual growth to loyal employees and predictable revenue, this is the time to acquire other businesses, introduce new product lines, or consider selling the company to investors. Here you’ll find articles, guides and tools to help you avoid complacency in your success and stay vigilant for other opportunities or signs of trouble.
Research indicates that over 80% of companies were the target of some type of payment fraud in the last year. Payment fraud can be difficult to detect and may come in the form of checks, credit cards, and/or electronic payments. It is important for your business to carefully assess the form of payments you want to accept and then train your employees on how to identify unusual or suspicious activity. The best protection against payment fraud is prevention.
Even with today's technology, checks are still a commonly used form of payment. They are also very susceptible to fraud. To prevent check fraud, it may be a best practice to not accept check payments unless you have a credit history established with the client. If you do accept checks, always ask for photo identification. While it may not be possible to run a background check on every new client, you should always ensure that you know your client prior to accepting payments by check.
Credit cards are another form of payment, but they too carry risk. To protect against credit card fraud, you should ensure that the credit card terminal you are using is an EMV terminal. This will authenticate the card and the cardholder when a PIN or signature is required. In addition to helping prevent card fraud, the EMV terminal helps reduce the liability of the merchant for losses for fraudulent transactions.
Whatever payment methods you decide to accept in your business, know and understand the legal aspects of each. It is also a best practice to be aware of the opportunities that might exist within each payment category for fraud. Educate your employees on how to spot fraudulent activity and make them aware of what your policy and procedures are in the instance that fraud does occur with a payment.
There are other signs that employees should be trained to watch for to help detect fraudulent activity. Purchases that are made exclusively by phone, email or text message may be suspicious. This is especially true if this is a change from that client's normal ordering method. Irregular orders and shipping discrepancies may also indicate fraud. Be sure to train your employees to check for billing and shipping zip codes that do not match, large, repeat orders in a short time span, and inconsistencies in orders. Providing the tools and training to spot fraud at the source will help to protect your business.
Monitor your bank account with online or mobile banking to identify any discrepancies in payments quickly. In addition, be sure to utilize the resources you have available to mitigate against payment fraud. Speak to both your banker and insurance agent to determine what tools they have available to help protect against payment fraud. In the instance that fraudulent payments do occur, know what resources you have available to help you recover from the incident quickly. The more prepared you are, the more difficult it will be for fraud to occur.
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