Fraud Prevention Tip: Always Have Someone Double Check the Payroll

There are a number of good payroll services out there that will handle all of your payroll needs. All you do is enter employee hours or salaries into the system and – poof! – everybody gets paid on Friday.

Many businesses opt not to engage a service like this; perhaps they don’t like the technological integration, perhaps they like to keep things in house, or maybe they just don’t know such services exist. Whatever the reason for not contracting out one’s payroll, if you do payroll in house, make sure someone is double checking the work.

And that brings me to Aunt Tess.

Aunt Tess was a payroll clerk I once had the pleasure of encountering. She’d been working at the same company doing the payroll for over 25 years, and everybody loved Aunt Tess. After all, that’s why they all called her Aunt Tess.

Well, I suspected something fishy was going on when Aunt Tess came into work the day after an appendectomy to do the payroll. There she was, just handing out pay checks as if 18 hours earlier she hadn’t been split open unconscious on an operating table.

Really, Aunt Tess? Not even a day of recuperation?

I inquired and learned that in 25 years Aunt Tess had not missed one single payroll day. Not one. Does that strike you as bizarrely as it struck me?

At a big company, no one knows all the hourly people’s names, and this was a fact that Aunt Tess had been methodically exploiting for a quarter of a century.

As it turned out, she’d created a handful of specious hourly employees, whose concocted existence allowed her to steal between $75,000 and $100,000 a year. She’d just hand out checks, hold on to her unknown friends’, and deposit them into bank accounts that she controlled.

It was both elaborate and simple. Considering the love for Aunt Tess both from management above and employees all around, everyone was quite shocked to learn of this betrayal, and their inclination to forgive her is something we’ll explore in future tips.

But for now, I’ll leave you with a reminder of this tip: Always Have Someone Else Double Check the Payroll. You never want just one person doing your payroll.

Do you have just one person doing your payroll? What kind of check will you put in place now? Let us know in the comments below or ask questions if you need some suggestions.

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