Top 10 Warning Signs of Employee Theft

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that employee theft costs American employers more than $50 billion dollars each year. In a study conducted last year by The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, executives of 60 percent of the companies surveyed said they expected their employees to steal money or equipment. Another study conducted by The Chubb Group in 2004 found that 39 percent of private companies had employees who stole company funds, equipment, or merchandise.


Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to employee theft. Many dollars are saved when business owners and managers make prevention their top priority.

Look out for:

#1 Big spenders: Large purchases such as cars, TVs, jewelry, vacations and more, especially if they cry poormouth.

#2 Violators: Employees who habitually violate company policies are breaking the rules in more ways than one. Often that means they steal too.

#3 Drug abusers: Employees that have a substance abuse problem need to feed their habit and they steal to do it.

#4 Liars: White lies are lies. If you catch employees in a little lie, chances are they are lying big.

#5 Disgruntled: Employees who may have cause to feel wronged justify their theft. If work conditions are unfair, morale goes down and theft goes up.

#6 Loners: If an employee makes an effort to work alone that may mean they are scheming and planning to steal.

#7 Comes in early, leaves late: While this may please some employers, the extra 30 minutes before and after everyone arrives and departs allows for plenty of time to toss items in their car with no one watching.

#8 Cooked books: The moment a discrepancy is recognized a deep investigation into the numbers must be performed.

#9 Protect your business by performing background checks as they are the best defense against internal theft. Screen all employees before hiring them. Limit the number of employees authorized to ring up other employees’ sales, reducing the opportunities for collusion. Use a card access system rather than traditional keys to digitally document who comes and goes.

#10 Install a closed-circuit television system. It allows you to monitor employees and serves as a very strong deterrent when employees know one is in place. Install hidden cameras. Employees will seek out blind spots where there are no cameras.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

5 Steps To Ensure Your Home Loan Is Safe

Home loans are granted by banks who are FDIC insured. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency created by the Congress to maintain stability and public confidence in the nation’s financial system. The FDIC preserves and promotes public confidence in the U.S. financial system by insuring deposits in banks and thrift institutions for at least $250,000; by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to the deposit insurance funds; and by limiting the effect on the economy and the financial system when a bank or thrift institution fails. In essence the FDIC has your back.

Problems with loans today generally revolve around loan modification that puts a borrower in a risky position. Many people are 30-120 days or more behind on their payments. Many face foreclosure and others get a temporary reprieve from their banks. The idea behind a modification is to get your loan to a point where you can afford it and keep up with the payments.

Step 1: Before you get into trouble look at your finances, your reserves, and how much you could afford if you lost your job and for how long.

Step 2: Contact your lender and see if there are modification programs that would work for those numbers in Step 1. You might quickly find you can get a cheaper loan for little or no costs.

Step 3: Do your homework. This means get educated, get savvy, and learn the ins and outs of your options. Get the assistance of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that are available to provide you with the information and assistance you need to avoid foreclosure. As part of President Obama’s comprehensive Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP), you may be eligible for a special Making Home Affordable loan modification or refinance, to reduce your monthly payments and help you keep your home.

Step 4: Keep good records. Mortgages require reams of documentation necessary to process a loan or modification. Gather all your paperwork and keep it in one place. This file will grow, so clearly mark each document and place it in its proper file.

Step 5: Honesty is the best policy: There are dozens of documents to fill out, paperwork to provide and many more questions to answer. In this process there are numerous opportunities to lie with whatever is written down or provided. Be forewarned that banks are getting much better at uncovering these lies and going after violators.

The lending process doesn’t need to be scary, overwhelming or above your head. Just take the time to learn the fundamentals and your loan should be safe and secure.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

10 Tips How to Prevent Retail Shoplifting

People steal. Stealing is normal. That doesn’t mean it’s good, because it isn’t, but I’ll bet some scientist could prove stealing is in our DNA. We’ve been stealing to survive for millions of years. Today, you wouldn’t think stealing would be necessary, but still, millions steal because of need or greed. Store managers know this better than anyone.

According to the Nation Retail Security Survey, small businesses often experience higher annual shrinkage than larger companies. In part because smaller businesses are not equipped with retail security systems. However, there is plenty you can do to reduce and/or prevent retail theft.

Make it Difficult for Retail Theft to Happen:

#1 Instruct employees to be the first line of defense by greeting or acknowledging every customer who enters their department.

#2 Provide personal customer service to as many customers as possible.

#3 Instruct floor personnel to make frequent eye contact with customers who wish to browse on their own.

#4 Assign zones for staff coverage so that floor personnel don’t leave vulnerable areas unattended.

#5 Instruct floor personnel to make a pleasant comment to every customer about the item(s) being taken into the fitting room, so that the customer is aware of what is expected to be either returned or purchased.

#6 Always maintain 100 percent compliance when placing security tags on vulnerable merchandise.

#7 Install added security measures in “blind spots” around the store (e.g., bright lighting, security mirrors, anti-shoplifting signs, and camera).

#8 Lower displays around the cash register that block the cashier’s view of the selling floor.

#9 If your store is large in size, improve retail security by making frequent announcements over the public address (PA) system, such as “Security to area 4,” even if your store doesn’t have security personnel or an area 4.

#10 Issue a criminal trespass warning to all known shoplifters who you want to be prohibited (by law) from entering your store again. Let shoplifters know, by work and deed, that your store prosecutes all offenders.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

How to Respond in a Medical Emergency

First, I’m no doctor so this advice is not intended to be substitute for consulting with a medical professional. If you think you are experiencing a medical emergency, seek immediate medical attention.

But I am a Dad and these things interest me. So I hopped on over the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and took a page out of their book “What to do in a Medical Emergency” They have information on everything from Abdominal Pain to Snake Bites to Vomiting. But what interests me the most is the fundamentals like “Is It An Emergency?” because before we go diving into the particulars of specific emergencies, its’ good to look at it from 30,000 feet.

AECP says it is essential to know how to recognize the signs of a medical emergency – because correctly interpreting and acting on these signs could potentially save the life of a loved one — or your own life — one day. Many people experience the symptoms of an emergency, such as a stroke or a heart attack, but for various reasons (such as fear), delay seeking care right away. For many medical emergencies, time is of the essence, and delays in treatment can often lead to more serious consequences.

Emergency physicians believe it is the responsibility of every individual to learn to recognize the warning signs of a medical emergency. The following signs and symptoms and are not intended to represent every kind of medical emergency, but rather to provide examples of common issues.

Then they go onto discuss:

Add ‘ICE’ to Your Cell Phone

Preparing for Emergencies

Should You Drive or Call an Ambulance?

Symptoms of Childhood Emergencies

Warning Signs and Symptoms

What to Expect in the Emergency Department

When Your Child Has an Emergency

AECP says you also can learn to recognize — and act on —emergency warning signs by taking a first aid class and learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Your local hospital, American Red Cross or

American Heart Association may conduct first aid courses in your area or can guide you to organizations that do so.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist toHome Security Source discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

How to Spot a Mortgage Scam

Mortgage fraud is when someone knowingly uses or facilitates the use of any deliberate misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission, knowing the same to contain a misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission, during the mortgage lending process with the intention that it be relied on by a mortgage lender, borrower, or any other party to the mortgage lending process.

In a press release by the Appraisal Institute the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s March 2012 Mortgage Loan Fraud Update, found that depository institutions submitted 19,934 Suspicious Activity Reports in the third quarter of 2011 pertaining specifically to mortgage loan fraud, a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

Law enforcement activities surrounding mortgage fraud across the U.S. have resulted in the arrest of thousands, according to reports. Some of the most devastating instances of mortgage fraud involve identity theft. Consumers not only have to be leery of questionable mortgage lenders, but also of others who might buy a home in their name.

30 yrs ago mortgages originated at a savings-and-loan from bankers who obeyed conservative lending rules. Sweeping changes in the finance world have created a system to helped raise homeownership to record levels, but  it also has led to far looser lending standards allowing fraud to proliferate.

Predatory lenders often go after Illegal immigrants, first time home buyers, unsophisticated buyers, low income buyers, poor people who are often used as straw buyers and the elderly who might have full equity and fall victim to deed fraud.

There are dozens of scams to be aware of:

Lenders offering financial incentives to find buyers

Lenders offering financial incentives to provide employment records

Lenders targeting poor neighborhoods

Double closings; borrowers signing multiple mortgages on the same property which settle quickly and prevent the lenders from discovering the fraud

In the event of possible foreclosure:

Contact lender to work out payments

Carefully review documents before signing

Signing any kind of deeds means you’re selling your home

Be aware of people contacting you offering bargain loans or easy credit

They key to increase your “mortgage intelligence”. The more you understand about the lending process the better informed you will be to prevent being scammed. And always do business with know reputable brands.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing Real estate Agent safety on Inside Edition. Disclosures.

15 Screening Tips for Hiring Honest Employees

Being a small business myself, I know how difficult it is to find the right employees. And everyone I speak to who is in business has the same problem. Unfortunately too many people lie, cheat and steal and when they come to work for you, they drain company resources until they are fired. It’s best to use prescreening services; otherwise the screening tips below will help you to hire honest employees.

#1 Job Classifieds: Place and ad that says what you want: “Seeking HONEST employees with high moral integrity who seek to thrive to in a motivating environment with many opportunities for advancement and higher pay. Applicants will have a background check and psychological test, reference checks, drug testing and additional screening to determine eligibility.”

#2 Look for incongruence. Resume are often “false advertising” and outright lies, look for red-flags and exaggerations.

#3 Appearance is telling. Someone who is disheveled and unkempt is a sign of character.

#4 Ace interviewees: Interviewees who are well-spoken and ace the interview process may have had lots and lots of jobs.

#5 Use employment applications: Check and verify everything.

#6 Resume Red flags: Look for gaps in employment, multiple workers comp claims, incongruence etc.

#7 Employee ID Verification: Photocopy and determine if identification is legitimate.

#8 Background checks: Necessary but are only one small part of the screening process.

#9 Criminal records checks: Insufficient by themselves and do not detect employee theft unless prosecuted and convicted. Juvenile convictions do not show on a criminal records check.

#10 Drug Testing: Drug and alcohol testing is an absolute must.

#11 Reference checks: Follow up and extensively check.

#12 Driving record checks: Look for red-flags, signs of recklessness, carelessness and aggressiveness.

#13 Employee Credit Check: Bad credit means irresponsible.

#14 Physical exams: Unhealthy body means unhealthy mind

#15 Budget check: Request the applicant write out their monthly expenses. If their expenses exceed their income that’s a red-flag.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Hiring Employees: How to Perform a Criminal Background Check

Background checks are a necessary tool in today’s sometimes violent and certainly litigious society. If a rug installation company was to hire an installer, who eventually rapes and kills a client, then the rug installation company would be held libel for the animals actions. This example is one that happens all too often.

It’s common sense to require employment background checks for school volunteers, coaches, teachers, janitorial staff and really, employees of all kinds. As a small business, one the worst thing you can do is hire an employee who becomes a legal liability or has a history of crime that comes back to bite you.

There are two ways of going about getting a criminal background check for employment:

#1 Private companies: These are information brokers who have huge databases containing public records and records from private sources.  The information on a background check might include all the addresses you’ve lived at, those you are related to, marital status, social media profiles, current and past employers, criminal histories, driving records and credit. There is also a litany of other information that may or may not be 100% correct.  These pre-employment background checks are generally a guide, but not absolute. A quick search on “Background Check” will provide dozens of resources.

#2 FBI Criminal Background Check: A true criminal record comes directly from the FBI or an FBI-approved Channeler, An FBI Identification Record—often referred to as a criminal history record or a “rap sheet”—is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. The process of responding to an Identification Record request is generally known as a criminal background check.

The FBI offers two methods for requesting your FBI Identification Record or proof that a record does not exist.

Option 1Submit your request directly to the FBI.

Option 2: Submit to an FBI-approved Channeler, which is a private business that has contracted with the FBI receive the fingerprint submission and relevant data, collect the associated fee(s), electronically forward the fingerprint submission with the necessary information to the FBI CJIS Division for a national criminal history record check, and receive the electronic record check result for dissemination to the individual. Contact each Channeler for processing times.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

Concert Season Coming: Don’t Get Scammed

As spring is in full swing, so are the advertisements for upcoming concerts. I, for one, look forward to getting on my Harley, snagging easy parking, and taking in a few shows this year. And, as with all seasonal activities and events, scammers are gearing up to take advantage of another opportunity to prey upon unsuspecting victims looking for a last-minute deal.

There are many options for purchasing tickets online, but not all are safe and secure. One Forbes blogger revealed how he was scammed when attempting to purchase NFL tickets. And how did he encounter these scammers? Through Craigslist.

“The seller had a Gmail account and a cell phone number and a plausible-ish explanation about why he couldn’t use them, and he was willing to meet her in person to hand them over, and they looked more or less like the last tickets I bought. So we bought them. And we went to the stadium gate, where the guy who scanned our bar codes told us we had to go to Will Call, and the lady at Will Call took one look at our tickets and pronounced them fakes.”

Ticket scams have been occurring for years. When a ticket is nothing but a piece of paper with a barcode that will be scanned at the event entrance, counterfeiting is child’s play. Some events provide wristbands to ticketed attendees, which can also be easily faked.

To avoid scams, buy tickets directly from the box office, the venue’s official ticket exchange, or any other popular website or major brand specializing in ticket sales. The blocks of tickets sold by resellers are generally legit, but have the reseller walk you to the gate and get confirmation from a ticketing agent before handing over any money.

Exercise extreme caution when using Craigslist. Do not trust watermarks, barcodes, and other low-tech security features that make tickets slightly more difficult to recreate, but are often lost on the general public when it comes to determining authenticity. A ticket may look real, until a ticket agent scans it and you are denied entry.
One way that online ticketing providers are fighting back is through the use of device reputation technology. This allows them to uncover computers and related devices that are responsible for fraudulent activity at the point of sale, and deny transactions from these devices. This kind of visibility gives ticketing services businesses a powerful advantage by allowing the to easily identify and block scam artists before the damage is done. One ticketing provider alone reduced total fraud losses by 98% with device reputation.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses identity theft  in front of the National Speakers Association. (Disclosures)

Workplace Safety Tips: Identifying Fire Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provide an exhaustive (and exhausting) detailed reference of fire safety standards here. Many states such as IOSHA (Indiana) have adopted these workplace safety tips and summed them up different fire hazards in a convenient way:

General Fire Safety Tips

To eliminate fire hazards, you can install a fire alarm system and look for potential sources of fire ignition which may exist in your facility, such as:

Electrical Failures and Misuse of Electrical Equipment

You can reduce electrical fire hazards by ensuring proper installation, maintenance, and use; conducting regular inspections; and, providing job training to employees. Also, be sure to replace worn electrical cords and avoid overloading electrical circuits.

Housekeeping and Maintenance

You can reduce the potential for fires through attention to housekeeping. Immediately dispose of flammable wastes and scrap in metal containers with metal lids. Avoid excessive stockpiling, and put trash and paper in proper containers.

Path of Travel

Do not store flammable material in any part of a means of egress. If the path that your employees must travel to leave the building is not immediately apparent from any point, mark the route with directional signs

Exit Doors

A door designated as a means of egress must be maintained so that employees can easily exit.

Do not lock exit doors; doing so prevents escape from inside the building.

Doors shall never be chained, barred, bolted, or latched when the building is occupied.

Prohibit the use of locking devices that are difficult to open against door pressure (e.g., slide bolts, hasps, hooks and eyes).

Prevent the door from being blocked by debris, surplus stock, mechanical equipment, or ice and snow.

Maintain all door components in working condition.

Robert Siciliano personal and small business security specialist toADT Small Business Security discussingADT Pulse on Fox News. Disclosures

POS Skimming—Bad News for Banks and Merchants

EFTPOS skimming has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years. EFTPOS skimming—which stands for “electronic funds transfers at the point of sale”—involves either replacing the self-swipe point of sale terminals at cash registers with devices that record credit and debit card data, or remotely hacking a retailer’s POS server.

In one such case, Romanian hackers are alleged to have remotely accessed hundreds of small businesses’ POS systems and stealing enough credit card data to rack up fraudulent charges totaling over $3 million. The hackers’ targets included more than 150 Subway restaurant franchises and at least 50 smaller retailers.

Officials report a wave of credit and debit card attacks, involving point of sale terminal swapping, data skimming, and hacking into payment processors. The U.S. Secret Service, for example, will not disclose details about specific cases, but confirmed, “they are conducting a multi-state, multi-country investigation into this string of crimes.”

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Bankers Association has stated, “It is beyond apparent our bankers are taking great losses on these cards and we also need to explore creative ideas to mitigate these losses. It is in the best interest of retailers, bankers, processors and card providers to find ways to limit these losses so that debit and credit cards can remain a viable method of payment.”

When the use of these stolen credit cards go online, iovation’s ReputationManager 360 helps banks and online merchants avoid fraud losses by detecting high-risk behavior and stopping cybercriminals in their tracks. iovation’s device identification and device reputation technology assesses risk on activities taking place at various points within an online site such as account creation, logging in, updating account information, attempting a purchase, or transferring funds. These checks can be customized and fine-tuned to suit the needs of a particular business, detecting fraudulent and risky behavior in order to identify and block cybercriminals for good.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses POS skimming on CBS. Disclosures.