Who is stealing from you and how?

Dr. Arlen Meyers details the risks of employee theft and lists precautionary steps to take in order to prevent it.

When I was in private practice many years ago, I decided to take a weekend course in internal financial controls and managerial financial techniques. During the presentation, the speaker put up an acetate slide (that tells you how long ago this was) and listed 10 things you should have in place to prevent employees from stealing money. He asked the audience to check off the boxes of each if we did not have them in place. For each, he noted, there was a 10% chance that your employees were stealing money from you. By the eighth box, I knew I was in trouble.

When I returned home, I asked my two employees to meet in an effort to share the information I learned and how I intended to change our accounting, billing, and collecting systems. The next day my receptionist walked out in the middle of office hours and I subsequently discovered she stole my money to feed her boyfriend's cocaine habit. I felt, and still feel, violated.

While the days of acetate slides have long passed, the problem of employees stealing from medical practices has not.

Here is an updated list of things you should be doing that is not too different from the list I saw:

“Watch for suspicious behavior.

Examine accounts payable.

Segregate duties.

Use a lock box.

Create checks and balances.

Use your computers.

Act quickly once you discover theft.

Carry a fidelity bond.

Run background checks on vendors.

Run background checks on your employees.

Run background checks on your partners.”

To make matters worse, stealing your identity can be worse than someone stealing your money and it can take years to resolve. Here are some ways to prevent medical provider identity theft.

Here are 12 ways to avoid personal identity theft.

Cyber theft is in all the headlines, but more prevalent and scurrilous crimes are embezzlement and identity theft. Take proper precautions so you won't find yourself, like me, checking off the boxes.