Monitoring veterinary practices for employee theft

Monitoring veterinary practices for employee theft

You may trust your employees, but are you certain there are no thieves among your staff? Here's a look at how veterinary practices are dealing with theft—and the warning signs you should look for.
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Aug 01, 2010
By dvm360.com staff
Imagine this scenario: A client brings his pet in for an examination. Your records show a past-due bill on his account. He swears he paid the bill, and later even brings you a bank statement to prove it. But after reviewing your practice records, you still can’t find a record for the client’s payment.

What do you do? You may need to question your team members, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Denise Tumblin, CPA, owner of veterinary consulting firm Wutchiett Tumblin and Associates in Columbus, Ohio. This is just one of the many examples of employee theft she’s seen in veterinary practices. In this case, the team member found a way to deposit the client’s payment into her own bank account. She then changed the client’s address in the practice’s computer system, thereby ensuring the client wouldn’t receive a copy of the bill. Pretty sneaky, huh?
Data source: 2010 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Survey

The complete package:
Is employee theft a problem in your veterinary practice?
If yes, has employee theft become worse in the last year?
How do you monitor your veterinary practice for theft?
Other ways to monitor for theft
These days, technology makes it easier than ever for a team member to commit fraud. So keep an eye out for suspicious behavior. Here are some of the most common signs to watch for, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners: Increased complaining. If a team member makes it clear that she isn’t getting paid enough, she may decide to take matters into her own hands.

Drastic changes in lifestyle. Did a team member recently upgrade from a broken-down beater to a shiny new convertible? Perhaps you should question how he afforded his new toy.

Reluctance to take time off. The employee could be a workaholic—or maybe she’s afraid of getting caught while she’s gone. Defensiveness. When you put fraud controls in place, the loudest complainers are often the guilty ones.

Addictions. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or gambling, addictive behaviors often drive an employee to steal.

Data source: 2010 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Survey

The complete package:
Is employee theft a problem in your veterinary practice?
If yes, has employee theft become worse in the last year?
How do you monitor your veterinary practice for theft?
Other ways to monitor for theft
One final note: Don’t assume that fraud can’t happen in your practice. “It’s more common than many people realize,” Tumblin says. “It’s happening to a lot of practice owners and they’re not aware of it.”

Data source: 2010 Veterinary Economics State of the Industry Survey

The complete package:
Is employee theft a problem in your veterinary practice?
If yes, has employee theft become worse in the last year?
How do you monitor your veterinary practice for theft?
Other ways to monitor for theft

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