by Rod Smith
Happy New Year!
I’m always encouraged to start the New Year and celebrate the opportunity for new beginnings. My hope is that everyone is doing well and that 2021 will be a great year for each of you.
As I was drafting this month’s IC Newsletter, I noticed a running list of topics that I’ve been meaning to address, and after discussing some thoughts with colleagues, I decided to create this list of “Be on The Lookout” items for 2021:
- Printer Ink. For 2021, there’s already much talk in the fraud prevention media about ink and toner theft. Some of the concern that I’m sharing is not actually all fraud related but could point to inefficiencies from the lack of training and guidance on the proper use of printers and copiers, especially when working remote. Do you know the real value of ink and toner in volume as a stand-alone product? The average black-ink cartridge contains only 8 milliliters of ink and the average cost to you as a consumer is roughly $10 for each cartridge. There are approximately 3,785 milliliters in a gallon. So, for a gallon of ink, you’re looking at approximately $4,730 in value – need I say more? Folks, please understand how valuable ink & toner are, and know there’s high demand for ink cartridge exchanges out on the web. There are reasons that manufactures of printers often sell the printer at or below costs: they make up their loss margins after the first sale of ink and toner. So, how can you clearly spot inefficiencies of ink and toner usage? Ironically, look at your paper usage. Are your paper orders correlating to the amount of toner and ink you are using? Remember, numbers tell stories…
- Phone scams. There is an abundance of them, but I specifically list two here. With all the COVID concerns across the world, scammers are already at it when it comes to vaccines. They’re contacting individuals to reserve spots in line for the vaccine and telling the target that they must reserve their spot in line by making a payment over the telephone. Furthermore, scammers are calling individuals to purchase COVID tests by phone.
- Reimbursement scams. With so many people working from home, reimbursement theft is on the rise. Ensure that there are strong policies in place and enforce them. Conduct regular team meetings to determine proper expenditures and compare those to budget expectations — this can prevent attempts of theft by raising awareness of your inherent controls. By discussing expenditures and your budget with your team, folks know what the money is used for and this will increase transparency in spending. Additionally, with the quality of technology today, remember that fraudsters can easily generate fake receipts. I read of one case where a fraudster simply copied a template from a previous receipt and replicated that receipt and then altered the receipt number and date of purchase to produce a fraudulent business transaction document for reimbursement.
- Verify, Verify. It’s crucial to perform vendor, contract and invoice verification. If a vendor is calling to make changes, it’s imperative that proper procedures are in place and specifically followed to ensure the vendor request is authentic. The best practice protocol when receiving a phone call to change vendor information is for the department to obtain the necessary details first from the caller and then hang up and reach out to the designated contact on the vendor’s file to ensure the authenticity of the request. Never assume!
- Low-Quality Products. There are many platforms used to sell items and when there is a run on the market, imitation or faulty products are often substituted and then overpriced, which paves the way for unnecessary and wasteful spending. Be sure and check your receivables and ensure the quality of the product fits the described specifications of which you paid.
- Phishing attempts are increasing in droves. It is crucial to thwart these attacks by sending employee alerts and properly training them in recognizing phishing attempts. I recently read that victims to phishing scams are often too scared or embarrassed to report and/or even admit they were a victim, and this causes even more risks to organizations. We have to have an informative plan in place and specific guidance on reporting these attacks appropriately.