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Top 10 tips to prevent cash register fraud and theft

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If you are in the retail business you undoubtedly use cash registers (shop tills) to process customer payments and transactions. Due to the storage of large sums of cash and the fact that cash registers sit prominently on the shop counter, cash registers are at risk of theft and fraud from both members of the public and your own staff.

How do members of the public steal from cash registers?

Members of the public can steal cash straight from your shop cash register cash drawer by leaning across (when staff are absent) and pressing the cash drawer release key. The cash drawer opens automatically revealing the cash inside.

Meanwhile, it is not unknown for people to steal the entire cash register. The cash registers are rarely secured to the countertop and as some are smaller and more light-weight than others, they can simply be lifted off the counter.

How do staff steal from cash registers

Cash registers are vulnerable to dishonest staff who steal from cash registers, taking money straight out of the cash drawer and keeping it. Alternatively, they may only scan so many items for people who they know, letting them take the rest of the goods without payment.

Every year retail profits are affected adversely by cash register theft and fraud. The good news is that there are ways to prevent it.

Ten tips for preventing cash register fraud and theft

  1. CCTV cameras
    CCTV cameras can be positioned on the ceiling above the cash register with the view showing the employee and the customer. Signage is very important when using CCTV and in itself can often be a deterrent.
  2. Staff log-in and out codes (clerk codes)
    All staff should have their own cash register security code which they must use at all times to log on and off the system. Not all cash registers allow for this, but many of the higher priced cash registers do. It is very important to be able to know who is doing what with your shop till. If money has gone missing often the error or theft can be traced back to the exact member of staff but only if they use their clerk codes when operating the cash register.
  3. Secure the cash register
    Fixing the cash register to the countertop will prevent the cash register from being easily lifted off the countertop by would-be thieves. 
  4. Remove large sums of notes regularly
    Regularly remove large sums of notes from the cash drawer and place it in a secure safe. This ensures that the cash registers do not contain large amounts of money at any one time preventing large scale theft. Make it known that the shop cash register never holds large amounts of money via signage.
  5. Safety in numbers
    If possible always have at least two members of staff working on the tills. They can then observe each other preventing employee theft as well as acting as a deterrent for thieves.
  6. Train staff to be alert
    Staff should be alert at all times when operating the cash register and always use their own codes for logging in and out of the machine. This is for their benefit as much as it is for yours.
  7. Identify when someone approaches an unattended till
    You can buy various motion point detectors (such as pressure-switch mats) which can be used to alert you to someone approaching an unattended cash register. Ensure that there are no large racks etc. blocking the view of the cash register. 
  8. Open only when necessary
    Ensure cash register drawers can only be opened for the purpose of taking customer payment and not for any other reason. This includes giving change for customer parking etc.
  9. Empty your cash drawer
    Always empty your cash drawer and leave it open in full view of the shop window so that would be thieves can see that there is nothing to gain by breaking in and taking the cash register.
  10. Label your equipment
    Ensure all equipment is marked with an identification number so that if the equipment is stolen and recovered, it can be returned to you.

Don’t let your profits sink with inefficient cash registers security. Implement these cost-effective measures, keep your money safe.

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