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White Collar Crime Checklist: 3 Tips to Prevent Fraud in Your Office

The white collar is mostly gone. But economic crime is still going strong. Bribery, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and tax evasion are all alive and well as white collar crimes.

These are serious offenses that do much damage to victims and society in general. Yet, they get less press than classic violent offenses. It's important to understand how financial fraud can be more harmful to your business.

Why the White Collar Criminals Get Away

There are at least a few reasons we tend to worry less about white collar crime. First, no one gets physically hurt. Second, we do not imagine professionals stealing. Third, it is difficult to spot.

White collar crime is necessarily perpetrated by people in special positions. Those people in the office who manage figures and access funds, who make the deals and the big money, or who file the taxes -- the ones you really trust with the hard stuff -- are most likely to be involved in a criminal scheme.

The schemes are often not easy for others to recognize. White collar criminals use their professional skills for financial gain, relying on the respectability that comes with their position as a shield. Who imagines that their accountant evades taxes?

How to Stop Fraud in Your Office

Even if you don't believe your people would ever lie, cheat, or steal, you should be wary. If workers are committing crimes or other wrongdoing and your business is implicated, you will be held responsible regardless of your conscious involvement. Here are four simple things you can do to help prevent problems with fraud in your office.

  1. Know the Law: Gain some familiarity with the legal requirements of your business. You will not be able to develop an expertise in every area of the law, of course, but you should have a lawyer you can talk to when you have specific questions and a general sense of acceptable behaviors and potential fraud warning signs. Do not wait for a government investigation that uncovers all you have done wrong to learn what your business was supposed to be doing.
  2. Watch the Work: Make sure there are systems in place to check on employees. Yes, of course you must trust the people you hired and you cannot spend all the time monitoring their activities or nothing will get done at work. But, on the other hand, do not be naïve. Keep an eye on employees and let them know the ways their work is watched. Just knowing that someone who is familiar with what should happen is watching goes a long way to preventing crime.
  3. Formulate Reporting Policies: Make sure that everyone in the company at every level is encouraged to report fraud and is aware of the internal protocols for doing so. Whistleblowers who report to you rather than the authorities are doing you a major favor. So make it easy for them to make it easy for you by instituting wrongdoing reporting policies and clearly articulating them on a regular basis.

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