If you or your employees handle cash, try to avoid getting into a routine. It is also wise to reduce the amount of cash held on your business premises where possible. This can be done by:
- making a regular, secure payment into the bank
- transferring excess cash into a locked tamper-proof unit
- removing cash overnight - eg emptying tills
- encouraging the use of electronic payments, credit/debit cards or cheques
- paying wages straight into staff bank accounts
Keeping cash on site
If cash has to be kept on site, you should make sure it is held in a secure manner - eg a safe that is fitted to the building. Where possible the minimum amount of cash should be held in public areas and tills should be cleared regularly. Drop–safes, with time locking mechanisms should be used to ensure that cash is held securely. Staff should not handle cash alone and anyone who deals with financial records should not handle cash. Protect your money guidance from the PSNI.
Moving cash around
When you or an employee makes a secure payment into the bank, it should not be made alone. It is also advisable to vary the times and the route used. Restrict information about cash movement to those directly involved and consider using a professional cash-in-transit business.
Stained and counterfeit cash
Encourage your staff to be aware of the risk of accepting stained notes as these could have been stolen. Notes become stained when a cash degradation system has been set off during a robbery. These systems are used in tills (by banks, post offices, building societies and retail outlets), cashpoints and in cash boxes used by cash-in-transit companies who deliver and collect cash.
If you are offered a stained note by a member of the public, treat it as you would a mutilated or damaged note and do not accept it. Advise the customer to take the note to a Post Office or bank and obtain a Bank of England Mutilated Note (BMN) claim form for the repayment of damaged notes see further information on damaged and contaminated banknotes. By filling in this form and going through the proper channels, providing the note is genuine, they will be reimbursed for the note they have handed in.
There are a number of ways to tell if a note is counterfeit or genuine. It is illegal to keep or pass on fake notes. Stopping criminals from spending stained or counterfeit notes helps to remove the incentive for crime.
The number of cheques being used has declined in preference to the use of online banking and electronic payment systems. These systems having the benefit of additional security and anti-fraud measures. In spite of this cheque fraud has become more organised and sophisticated with advances in computer and printing technology.
When writing cheques:
- always fill out cheques with the full details of the payee
- avoid any blank spaces and rule out any unused space
- when sending by post, it is best to send securely and not use a windowed envelope
- store cheques securely and use them in serial number order
- be sure to compare cheques written with the correct paperwork
- destroy spoiled cheques by shredding if possible
When accepting cheques:
- ensure they are written, signed and torn out in front of you
- check that date and amount are correct
- don’t release goods before bank drafts are cleared
- if you receive a cheque for far too much and are asked to send the balance back to the drawer by electronic funds transfer, this is probably a scam where the cheque will bounce but your account is still debited
Debit or credit cards
You must have procedures in place for handling credit and debit cards. The secure chip and pin system should be used where possible. If you are unable to use chip and pin, you should check the cards for:
- start and expiry dates
- signs of tampering
- matching number on the card and till printout
- matching signature
If in doubt, you can always phone the card issuer for authorisation. You can get guidance on accepting card payments from the UK Cards Association