Fraud and embezzlement in veterinary practices and animal hospitals is far more common than any of us realize. Yes, it will happen to you at some point within your office.
Recently, we had an expert speak to our association and the myriad of ways that embezzlement occurs in a veterinary practice or pet hospital and it was alarming. All of the various ways they can steal is endless from stealing products, padding payroll, petty cash, employee advances, patient refunds, insurance checks, and even prescriptions.
Here are several ways to minimize your risk of fraud:
- Background checks – All employees should be subject to background checks before being hired, especially office managers , receptionists and key staff. This is inexpensive and standard procedure for savvy vet practices and pet hospitals. Most office fraud cases are caused by serial employees who repeat this crime and get better at their craft.
- Digital time clocks – The days of submitting payroll manually are over. Your office should be using a digital time clock.
- Inventory levels of products and supplies should be very tight and overseen by multiple people in your office.
- Separate responsibilities so you don’t rely upon one key employee.
- Ensure that multiple people can perform all tasks and ensure all employees take vacation. Embezzlers typically avoid taking time off and want to control all tasks.
- Many embezzlers have a tight relationship with the practice owner. Physical or emotional.
In a nutshell, over 70% of veterinary practices and pet hospitals experience fraud, theft or embezzlement. Unfortunately, most bad apples were identified but not prosecuted.
If you suspect embezzlement at your office, there is a process to follow before accusing any staff member.
VET CPA Association firms are another resource to contact if you suspect something is not quite right. Our members have a process to follow and an independent fraud risk expert to help you at the appropriate time.