Archive for the ‘Fraud’ Category

Bookkeeping – Working Smart

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Bookkeeping is not just entering transactions, reconciling your bank statement and saying, “I’m done!” Bookkeeping lays the foundation for everything that is extracted from your financial data, and business owners deserve data they can trust. Good bookkeeping does require work, but working smart now saves time, money and headaches later. Here are some tips for working smart.

Be organized and efficient – We’ve all been there – scouring pockets, wallets and vehicles searching for a missing receipt from months back. That’s human, but frustrating nonetheless. However, when you have a consistent and secure location for receipts and allocate expenses as you pay for them, you decrease the risk of missing receipts or transactions.

Be software friendly – Trying to save money by not upgrading to the latest software or software update is not working smart. Not using current software can leave your files vulnerable to cyber hackers, not to mention the frustration of a slow and glitchy software experience. Keeping current also means you’ll benefit from many new features and improvements that can make bookkeeping easier and more efficient.

Be financially separate from your business – It may take some time to set up business accounts and credit cards but doing so is working smart. It’s much easier to track business transactions, and you’ll save money as your accountant won’t have to spend time sorting business vs personal transactions at each year end.

Be reconciled to reconcile – Reviewing your bank statements, credit card and vendor statements monthly (at the very least) can help you catch errors or potential fraud early in the game.

Be mindful – Use a sticky note, set an alarm in your calendar – whatever it takes to prepare and file sales tax, employment and payroll tax, worker’s compensation and income tax ON TIME. Also, remit the amounts owing ON TIME to avoid penalties and interest.

Be careful – If your bookkeeper is unsure about the posting of any unusual or complicated transaction, they should seek guidance from your accountant. A quick call can save a lot of trouble down the road.

Working smart may mean some extra effort and diligence today, but is definitely worth it to have a successful tomorrow!

Fraud – It’s Rampant!

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Think fraud can never happen to your company? Think again! Fraud can cost business owners a ton of money and time! We’ve seen it happen!

The “Outside Job”

A client shared this disturbing story with us.

Our client’s daily routine was to fill up their fuel truck so their driver could deliver fuel to job sites and fill heavy equipment vehicles used in their business. The filling station attendant would fill the truck while the driver waited in the cab. The pump only reads to a maximum of $1,000 so as they would reach the maximum, the attendant would shout “$1,000”, reset the pump, keep filling and then shout “$2,000”, etc. until the tank was full. (Normally, there is approximately $3,000 of fuel pumped each time.) The attendant would then provide a receipt to the driver in duplicate and they would both sign off on the sale. Sounds good right – until fraud reared its ugly head. Sadly, our client found out that the attendant was not pumping to the $1,000 mark. When he shouted to the driver “$1,000” he was only pumping to around $875 and then quickly re-setting the pump before the driver could notice. He probably did this on each reset. Likely on every fill, our client was cheated out of several hundred litres of fuel.

The “Inside Job”

While fraud from the outside is distressing to business owners, fraud from within the company is particularly devastating. Most owner managers have a high degree of trust in their employees, especially those dealing with their company’s financial matters. However, since most fraud incurring in Canadian businesses are inside jobs, owners are placing what amounts to blind trust in their personnel and this could be risky!

For example, we have seen repeated instances of fraud where one staff member has sole access to cheques, on-line banking, accounting software and bank statements. They’ve managed to get away with everything from personal car repairs to making electronic payments directly to their personal bank accounts. One bookkeeper even wrote himself a cheque forging the owners signature – and not even a good forgery at that!

What Can You Do?

As a business owner, don’t abdicate your responsibility because you think it can’t happen to you! There are some simple control measures that can eliminate fraud risk that don’t require a lot of your time or money. Contact your accounting or audit firm today and protect yourself from fraud!

Cyberattacks – Are You at Risk?

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Gone are the days of Sears catalogues, telephone books or TV Guides delivered to our door. The Internet has revolutionized the way we shop, are entertained, research information, connect with friends and family – even pay our bills. However, though we appreciate what we GET from this powerful tool, we also need to appreciate the danger in what we “GIVE”.

Our Concern

Just think of all the information you’ve provided on websites. Whether is personal banking, purchasing from vendors, social media or playing games, let’s face it, your personal information is – “out there” and it could be vulnerable. In fact, the ever-growing cyberhacker vocation has resulted in many public security breaches that cause many of us to realize that our personal information is at risk! This is an ongoing concern at Scarrow Yurman & Co., especially considering all the confidential information we share back and forth with our clients via the Internet. While SY&C can’t solve the worlds cyber-concerns, we want to ensure our clients feel as secure as possible when they share their personal and confidential information with us.

Our Resolve

That’s why last year we introduced ShareFile. ShareFile is a fast, secure file sharing software customized specifically for accounting firms. ShareFile encrypts the emails and attached files we send to ensure our documents travel safely through cyberspace. Sending files to us is just as easy and secure. Simply send your documents through our secure website link, or click on the “Click here to send me secure files” link in any of our personal email signatures. Yes, it’s that easy to be safe!

Here are some more tips from staysafeonline.org for staying cybersafe through tax season:

  • To avoid fraudulent tax returns, file your tax return early. That makes it impossible for a cyberthief to submit a bogus return as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) only accepts one return per Social Insurance Number.
  • Watch out for unsolicited emails, texts, social media posts or fake websites from cybercriminals trying to get your personal information.
  • Watch out for impostors from the CRA. The CRA will never email (or phone) you demanding immediate payment, and they will never ask for a credit or debit card number via email (or phone).
  • Only give out your personal information to an authorized and trusted tax preparer.

The truth of the matter is that we are all at risk for cyberattacks. We urge you to learn more ways to protect yourself and your family. Click on the links below for more vital information and stay cybersafe!

staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/

npcdataguard.com/about.php

CRA / IRS Fraud Alert – Part 1

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You may or may not be aware of the fraudulent Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) phone calls, emails and letters circulating at this time. CRA usually contacts taxpayers by letter or phone call but never by email.

However, you may receive calls or voicemails from someone claiming to be a CRA agent, even giving an agent number, stating that you need to contact them immediately to settle an outstanding balance or else a lien will be placed on your property. The level of threat that these callers are making is sometimes a give-away, but the tactics used are indeed effective. Some are claiming you have a refund and to receive it they ask for bank or credit card information. CRA would never ask for bank or credit card information over the phone.

Fraudulent letters and emails are circulating as well. If you are not absolutely positive the letter or e-mail purporting to be from the CRA is legitimate, please forward the letters or emails directly to your accountant.

You may also be contacted by someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through emails, text message or social media channels. Please be aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message or social media channels to request personal or financial information.

Please do not respond to any of these fraudulent communications. If you have any questions or concerns about your tax situation contact your Chartered Professional Accountant immediately.

For further information and examples of the fraudulent phone calls, emails and letters please see the links below.

CRA: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html
IRS: https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection

CRA / IRS Fraud Alert – Part 2

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Further to our blog of April 16, 2016, we wanted to keep you informed of the latest in a string of scams that use the identity of the CRA. Our clients and friends continue to report receiving threatening phone calls from individuals claiming to be an agent from the CRA. Some have been told there is a warrant for their arrest due to unpaid taxes. The so-called “agent” then uses very effective tactics to bully the individual into immediate payment over the phone by demanding the taxpayer purchase Gift cards and then provide the PIN of the card to the agent, or insisting on a wire transfer through Western Union, credit card payment or other “unusual” methods of payment.

If you receive threatening calls or voicemails from someone claiming to be a CRA agent, beware! Consider this level of threat to be a red flag. CRA would never ask for bank or credit card information over the phone and certainly would never request payment in the form of gift cards, wire transfers, credit card payments and the like. Never provide your SIN or any other financial or personal information if you have not initiated the call to a confirmed CRA phone number (see below).

The same thing applies for alleged refunds that you are entitled to, where they require you to click on links on a website you are directed to, or request your banking information to facilitate a refund. Don’t fall for it – it’s very dangerous to co-operate.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the CRA, make note of their contact information and the tax matter they are referring to. Then hang up (no need to be polite) and call the CRA:

  • 1-800-959-8281 (for personal matters)
  • 1-800-959-5525 (for corporate matters)

A CRA agent can access your file to confirm if the call was actually legitimate. If the call was legitimate, there will be notes on your file as to who was calling you and why. DO NOT CALL ANY OTHER PHONE NUMBERS – EVER.

Fraudulent letters and emails are also still circulating. If you are not absolutely positive the letter or e-mail purporting to be from the CRA is legitimate, please forward the letters or emails directly to us for review, or phone CRA directly at the numbers noted above, not the numbers on any correspondence or e-mail.

Please do not respond to any of these fraudulent communications. If you have any questions or concerns about your tax situation, contact us immediately for advice.

For further information and examples of the fraudulent phone calls, emails and letters please see the links below.

CRA: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html

IRS: https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Identity-Protection

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