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Protect yourself from financial crime

Not every crime involves something as dramatic as armed robbery, arson or burglary. There are plenty of other ways your organization could experience violations — both from inside your group and outside. Three of the most common “financial crimes” are embezzlement, identity theft and cybercrime.

Church Mutual works with many organizations to help protect them from these types of crimes. Here’s some information about how you could be at risk — and what you can do to stop such a crime before it happens.

No one wants to believe someone they entrusted with handling their organization’s funds would betray that trust. But, according to the National White Collar Crime Center, employee theft and embezzlement cost organizations $400 billion per year. Here are some steps you can take to avoid this serious problem:

  • Hire a certified public accountant to conduct an annual audit and present the results to your governing body.
  • Keep at least two nonrelated people in the room whenever there is a need to count cash.
  • Maintain separation of duties so the person who prepares the checks does not have check-signing authority and the person who reconciles bank statements is not involved in check writing.
  • Secure access to blank checks and require that two individuals sign checks larger than $1,000.
  • Check references and run background checks on anyone who handles your money.
  • Use password-protected computer programs to track finances.
  • Require that two people sign off on any transfers of large sums of money into or out of your account.
  • Create a standardized form to document cash handling.

Identity theft
Any organization that collects people’s personal information — including their birth dates, social security numbers and credit card information — should take great care to protect that information. According to the 2019 Identity Theft Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, 14.4 million consumers were victims of identity theft in 2018. Take these steps to protect your information:

  • Only collect information you actually need to complete your operations.
  • Keep all hard copy documents containing personal information in a locked drawer.
  • Store highly sensitive personal information on a computer without an internet connection.
  • Use a shredder to destroy documents and credit cards.
  • Use a wipe utility program or company that specializes in disposing of computer files.

Other types of cybercrime
Identity theft is one type of cybercrime, but there are many others, including phishing scams and cyberstalking. You do not want to make it easy for criminals to gain access to information about your organization or the people in your organization through your computers. Here’s how you can lower your risk for cybercrime:

  • Install an anti-virus and anti-spyware program and firewall on your organization’s computers and keep current on operating system updates.
  • Never use a debit card to make purchases for your organization online. Designate a low-limit credit card specifically for online purchases.
  • Never share passwords over the internet, telephone or email. Passwords should be unique, using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Change your passwords every 90 days.

For safety information, resources and more focused on securing your organization and preventing crime, visit