Minimizing Staff Theft

  • August 3, 2017

Minimizing Staff Theft

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Embed Card System - Tips and Tricks: Minimizing Staff Theft

Your Embed system is engineered with a great many features to drive sales and provide high levels of customer service for your guests. Security and loss prevention is a balance between providing those high levels of service and transparency of all staff activity. It’s unfortunate, but history shows us that some staff will exploit the trust placed in them and use some features for personal gain.

One example is “skimming”, a common term that – when it comes to debit card systems – refers to collecting abandoned cards with small amounts of tickets and play value left on them and combining that value.  Often requested by guests, the “Combine Cards” feature allows you to combine two cards into one. Exploiting this service involves merging many cards, resulting in an accumulation of value with relatively small amount of effort.

Once the card reaches a certain play value the staff member will sell this card to an unsuspecting guest pretending to sell the equivalent package on the point of sale and puts the cash in his own pocket.

If you “Recycle” cards this can also be a good source of cards with remaining value, and how they are handled and managed should be tightly controlled.

 Your Embed Reports are a valuable resource for monitoring and auditing the activity of cashiers, general staff and even your managers. Detailed below you’ll find some we highly recommend that you review regularly.

Reports we recommend and why

Combined Cards – This report will display the activity of all staff when the “Combine Cards” function is used on your point of sale. We suggest you regularly review this activity, looking for cards that appear to have many instances of play value and or tickets being combined to one card, typically but not always by the same staff member. This is commonly referred to as “skimming”.

What’s the value in combining cards?  Staff collect cards they find abandoned or offered for recycling and some of these cards will often have a small amount of play value or electronic tickets left on them. They will transfer the value to another common card until it reaches a desired value that is in turn sold to an unsuspecting guest. In the case of accumulated tickets, these cards are often given to family or friends to redeem for high value prizes.   

Recycle Cards – Use this report to determine if the quantity of cards given to a staff member to recycle were fully recycled. Normally you will see values reported on some of the cards in a recycled batch. If you were to see all the card values at zero, it would indicate the cards with value have been set aside to potentially be skimmed.

Where enabled, the Recycle Cards function in the point of sale can be used to quickly search through many used cards to find those with any remaining value. 

Card Holder, Balance Details – Two similar reports that can be used to identify cards with high values remaining on them which you spot check for unusual activity.

Run the report sorting by the highest amount of tickets or remaining value over a certain amount.

Q. Do you recognize any names associated with the cards? Are any of them staff?

A. If so, check the transaction history in Card Maintenance and look for any unusual activity like multiple “Combined Card” transactions. We also recommend you check the card status to ensure it is normal and not something else like “Timed Play”.

Q. Do any of the card values look unusually high?

A. If so, check the transaction history in Card Maintenance and look for purchases that support the values the card has. For example, if a card has many tickets you would expect to see an extensive play history of redemption games and equivalent purchases to support that history.

We also recommend you randomly select some of the high value cards and check their transaction history for any unusual activity.  

Staff Plays – Shows the game play activity for all your staff cards. It’s a simple check you can make to ensure activity is normal and consistent with your operating policies. It’s not uncommon for staff to loan their card to family and friends or use it themselves. A common target is Prize Games with high value electronics, and high play numbers indicate it’s not all customer service or ‘testing’.  

Split Tabs Audit Trail – This report provides you with visibility over the activity of staff moving purchases between tabs, not only for errors to be understood, but also for deliberate activity to be identified.  For example, splitting and moving to a tab comes with the risk of a cashier isolating cash transactions and pocketing money or taking payment from the guest but not closing out the tab.  The report clearly shows you who moved what, how many times, when and who approved it. Source and destination tabs are included also. Options include narrowing the search to specific staff members.

Cashier Comments Report – While this is less about theft, this report has helped many owners and managers identify anti-social behavior towards their guests or other staff. You may be surprised at the social commentary that is sometimes reflected in this report. Similarly, it can display positive behavior you may want to reward.

Other important information contained in this report includes refunds, card re-issues, card balance adjustments, revenue adjustments, cancelled sales and voids.

 We recommend you look at it on a weekly basis.

As a business owner what else can I do?

Routinely reviewing these reports, combined with random inspections and audits will yield positive results for you. While your management team is important in implementing security procedures, understand that a good percentage of employee thefts are committed by managers.

You can also consider providing employees with an anonymous way to report theft and make suggestions to prevent it. This encourages them to take responsibility to help solve the problem, and shows your staff that you value their input. We’ve seen quite a few examples of employees saying their employers could do more to reduce employee theft but have chosen not to do so. Acknowledging that employee theft is a problem is often the most crucial step in preventing it.