Embezzlement is on the rise in dental offices. According to the Association of Fraud Examiners’ 2016 report, 60 percent of dentists will fall victim to embezzlement over the course of their career. On average, those cases usually go undetected for nearly 2 years with the total amount stolen prior to discovery averaging around $110,000.
Recently a VDA member alerted his component about an employee using an alias to operate a dental placement service. Here’s how it was done:
- The employee forged the dentist’s name on insurance company checks
- Wrote “pay to the order of (employee's name)” on the back of each check
- Snapped a photo of the check(s)
- Used a bank’s mobile app to deposit the checks directly into a personal checking account
This was all done remotely, without a single visit to a physical bank branch.
Protect your practice from a similar fate. That starts with doing your due diligence before hiring on a new employee. First, conduct thorough reference checks on potential employees with at least three (3) of their most recent employers. Second, use a third-party vendor to obtain a background check. This can include a comprehensive review of their driving record, credit history and criminal records (to the extent permitted by law). The National Association of Professional Background Screeners offers a list of accredited firms on the bottom of the website homepage.
Most states require permission from the candidate to perform this type background investigation, so it is up to you to be proactive in protecting yourself and your practice. Spending time on the front end to evaluate each employee might slow down your hiring process, but it’s the prudent choice.