In July we proudly co-sponsored a workshop on retail theft and fraud prevention with the Hudson Police Department. The Hudson Star-Observer has done an excellent job covering the latest methods of retail theft and fraud. With this space, I would like to focus specifically on what businesses and customers can do to prevent and report theft and fraud.
Retail theft and fraud can take many forms including organized shoplifting, returns of counterfeit merchandise, counterfeit money, UPC or price tag switching, quick change artists, check washing, clone credit cards, and fraudulent gift cards. Keeping up with all of these methods can be challenging, but by following a few tips, you can take great steps towards preventing your business from becoming a victim of retail theft and fraud.
Empower and Train Frontline Workers – Many forms of retail theft and fraud involve trying to deceive or manipulate frontline workers. Employees that have undergone training are more capable of preventing theft and fraud and feel more empowered to do so. Organizations such as the Twin Cities Organized Crime Association offer frequent trainings in our area.
Report Employee Theft – Often when employee theft occurs, an employer will fire the employee, but not report the theft. These employees will often then move on to another job where they will commit the same crime. By reporting these crimes, other employers can avoid hiring the violators and the police can track cumulative levels of theft, which may elevate the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Check for Credit/Debit Card Skimmers – Prior to using the card swipe at a gas pump or an ATM, check to make sure a skimmer has not been placed over the legitimate card swipe. A tug at the card swipe will snap off an illegal card skimmer. These skimmers are used by criminals to access credit card accounts and create clone credit cards.
Ask for ID or Decline to Process a Transaction – Criminals attempting to use cloned credit cards will often present multiple credit cards until one is processed successfully. By asking for an ID to verify the identity of the customer, you will avoid processing these fraudulent cards. You can also refuse to run multiple credit cards even if the customer asks you to.
Follow the Hudson Police Department on Facebook – The Hudson Police Department posts crime alerts, often including pictures of the perpetrators to their Facebook page. By staying current on these alerts, you will be on top of the latest criminal activity and have a better chance of spotting criminals when they enter your establishment.
Let the Chamber Know – As soon as you become aware of retail theft or fraud, let us know here at the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce. With the click of a button we can alert hundreds of businesses about the illegal activity. By working together we can help make a dent in the retail theft and fraud that costs United States retailers approximately $50 billion a year.