How to Protect Your Eye Care Practice from Embezzlers

Your eye care practice is not immune to the risk of embezzlement. Health care is the fourth most represented industry sector for instances of occupational fraud, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.

The amount employees have the opportunity to steal from the medical practices that employ them will only increase, now that patient co-pay amounts continue to rise. With your practice collecting more money directly rather than getting it reimbursed from insurance companies, there is more temptation—and opportunity—for your office employees to steal. One step you can take to prevent embezzlement at your practice: Understand how employees can potentially steal from you. If there is a fraudster lurking in your staff, he or she may:

  • Dip into petty cash.
  • Skim cash receipts by modifying deposit statements.
  • Steal from inventories, such as medical supplies.
  • Misuse the practice’s non-cash assets, such as patient financial information.
  • May bill for their own lab tests, medical supplies, or drugs under a patient’s name.
  • Overwrite checks to vendors, pocketing the refund amount and sometimes in collusion with the vendors themselves.
  • Create fake vendors and fake invoices to essentially pay themselves.
  • Manipulate payroll to give themselves unauthorized overtime, phony bonuses, or extra vacation time.
  • Submit false or inflated business expenses, or write themselves fabricated business expense reimbursements.
  • Apply for and obtain company credit cards that they use for personal expenses.
  • Divert mail (and payments) to a different address.

Brutal fact: There’s no way to imagine all the ways that an employee can embezzle money from a medical practice, and no way to know or control pressures beyond the job that may spur a staffer to steal. The best embezzlement prevention is to focus on limiting the “opportunity” portion of the fraud triangle by implementing internal controls in your practice.

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