Business security – thieves won’t be taking a holiday

Author: Stewart Clark / Date: December 17, 2015

Category: Risk Mitigation

With just on a week to Christmas, businesses are generally finalising last minute sales, delivering product orders, sorting through end of month accounts, preparing for New Year sales, confirming the staff leave roster, and even…. finalising the details for a staff Christmas break-up!

What’s normally left off the pre-Christmas “to do list” is security – physical and virtual.

Make no mistake, thieves will NOT be taking a holiday over the festive season – in fact, they will be working hard exploiting the combination of business closures and peak retail activity.

The risks to business vary significantly accordingly to industry, but here is a quick check list of 7 common security items to consider as part of the pre-Christmas preparations. Whilst not an exhaustive list, it is a good starting point.

  • Credit cards – are there any replacement cards due, and if so, what arrangements have been made for receipt? New, unsigned cards coming to an unattended mail box is a gold label invitation for theft.
  • Payment system authentication devices and passwords – devices should not be left in the office and passwords should never be loaned or written down.
  • Cash clearances – if the business is collecting large or unusual cash volumes during a “sales period”, then precautions should be made to clear this quickly. Random clearance patterns (time of day, person, route to bank etc) all reduce the chances of a planned robbery.
  • Warehouse sales – ad hoc sales in venues not normally used for selling or handling cash can present as a soft target.  These venues – and the staff running them, are usually not set up or familiar with the types of security commonly found in permanent locations. Remember, theft does not need to be just cash – it can be product, equipment or files!
  • Hacking – I’m always amazed at the ability of hackers to get access to computer systems, so whilst I recommend that you have quality IT Security safeguards in place – often it is the simple things that can provide some great additional protection. As an example, over the festive season have someone monitor your bank accounts – daily – looking for any unusual activity. The quicker a loss is discovered, the more your can limit additional loss and the more likely that you can recover what’s already been taken.
  • Cheque books and general financial reports – should all be secured to prevent theft or unauthorized copying/viewing.
  • Internal fraud – distasteful as it is to consider, this is also a period where the low levels of supervision permit some internal fraud. This may range from simple pilfering of the stationery cupboard, to stock or larger scale fraud. A wise person once told me in the context of staff that, “trust should never come into it if the systems and controls are strong”. Are yours?

A further quick tip from an operational risk perspective – with the skeleton staff numbers during the festive season; make sure that minimum numbers are still maintained for items such as physical security, first aid, quality control and dual authority items.

So for the festive season – before you take “a well-earned break“, make sure that you have taken a few simple steps to ensure that thieves are not going to have a Happy New Year at your expense.