5 Holiday Dangers – The hustle, bustle and excitement from the holiday season leave many opportunities for dishonest individuals to attempt to steal from your business. In this article we are highlighting 5 popular vulnerabilities your business might face throughout the holidays. We are also including precautions that will assist you in making it though the holidays with cheer.
1. Shoplifting – The most common form of theft during the holiday
While shoplifters tend to be a risk throughout the year, they are most active throughout the holiday season. They tend to know your staff is very busy with other clients and with the increased amount of customers during the holiday season, they have more opportunity to steal while you and your staff are assisting others. Encourage all of your employees to help greet and make eye contact with everyone who enters your business. The more eyes on the floor the better, have a plan for when you have a rush of customers and bring more staff into visible areas. You may also consider using a uniformed security officer inside your store, or consider hiring a plain-clothes security person to assist you in monitoring through the peak shopping season.
2. Identity Theft – Are your customers safe shopping with you?
If you employ temporary holiday help, make sure they have rock solid references. A lot of identity thieves are people working within businesses, where they have easy access to the data they are unlawfully attempting to collect. Make sure that only your most trusted staff has the ability to access client’s confidential information. Invest in a company, who for a reasonable fee can conduct a background search on the individual you are considering hiring. This does not eliminate all potentially dishonest people, but it can very much help you minimize contact with repeat offenders with a long list of prior theft type transgressions.
Also invest in an identity theft company for yourself who can monitor your activity and send you reports to make sure no one is using your name or information improperly.
Identity theft is an ever-growing concern. With the increased number of financial transactions occurring throughout the holiday season it is a perfect time for individuals trying to gain access to your customers’ personal data. If your staff has access to sensitive data about your customers, including Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or medical information, make sure that data is encrypted using a password-protected computer. Avoid keeping any paper copies of sensitive information in your workplace, even if it’s within a secure place. Again, only allow your most trusted employees access to this data.
3. After-hours break-ins and burglaries
Planning to take that well-deserved break between Christmas and New Year’s? Because you want your customers to know your holiday schedule, criminals also become aware that you will be away. They could utilize the time to prepare for a robbery and clean out your inventory before your return. When you leave, make sure you test your security system to ensure it is functioning properly, replace tapes, make sure time stamps are set correctly and cameras are working. No security system? Inform your local law enforcement or a trusted neighboring business owner the dates you are expected to be away. Ask them to keep an eye open for anything suspicious and make sure they have correct contact numbers to reach you in case of an emergency.
4. Shopping Accident Risks
Accidents can happen at any time during the year, surely the risk of accidents increases during special business sales events, parties or busy shopping days like Black Friday or Christmas Eve when businesses are likely to be overrun with eager and sometimes aggressive shoppers.
Some of the dangers that consumers face when out shopping for the holidays include:
Your business has an obligation to try to prevent these accidents and can be held liable for injuries that result through a premises liability lawsuit. Make sure to have a regular procedure for inspecting the safety of your premises, and proper methodology in place to handle large crowds or even frantic crowds competing for good bargains. Your business can be held liable if these precautions are not taken.
5. Holiday Scams are on the Rise!
The bad guys realize that many companies enjoy “giving back” during the holiday season. There will be many soliciting charitable contributions, going from one business to the next. Many times your well intended donation ends up in their back pockets. Remember that representatives from virtually all legitimate charities possess printed materials to leave with you and many will present other options than accepting “cash on the spot” donations. Check the web site www.charitynavigator.org for ratings on non-profit organizations. Information found here includes how efficiently every charity is managed and how the donor’s private information is protected.
Taking a couple of extra precautions this holiday will help make certain you enjoy a happy and peaceful season and keep your year-end profits safe!