As the shopping season starts to heat up, so does the potential for fraud. Unfortunately, as sales pick up, the unscrupulous try to take advantage of merchants and consumers. The busier we are, the less we all pay attention to detail. This week we will focus on what retailers can do to protect themselves.

The three areas we will focus on are returns, cash / credit card purchases, and general safety.

Returns: Be sure to have a clear and fair return policy posted. I have heard of instances where a high end good was purchased and a person tried to return a counterfeit good. Based on experience – our “complaints” looking for a free meal always picked up at this time of the year. The script was always the same “I ate here yesterday and the food wasn’t good – I would like it replaced today”. Without a receipt that was the end of the conversation.

Cash and credit card purchases: The federal government has training courses and printable materials to help identify genuine U.S. currency and fight fraud Their web site is  If you think the pens commonly used to detect valid currency paper are good – they are not – personal experience – we had a $100 bill that passed that test and was counterfeit. A UV light and the training on the above website are a much better protection. With a UV light, you can also see watermarks on credit cards. Very important to ensure you have a chip reader for in person credit card purchases or risk being 100% liable for fraudulent purchases.

General safety:  Remember it is getting dark earlier – make sure you allow teams to move cars closer to your location and leave in groups when possible. Secure all non-public entrances. Try to take out trash and make bank deposits during daylight hours. It might seem obvious – but do not count cash in public view.

Think through: Are your teams ready for the challenge? Have you spent the time to train them for the various scenarios to reduce fraud? Be sure to document anything you run into during the holidays and use that as continuous improvement for next year. Share what you learn with other retailers and help fight one of the areas that untimely hurts all businesses and consumers. I would like to hear your experience and share the additional learning next year.

Small Business


About the Author:

Gregory Woloszczuk is an Entrepreneur and experienced tech executive that helps small business owners grow their top and bottom line. Gregory believes in straight talk and helping others see things they need to see but may not want to with a focus on taking responsibly for one’s own business. He and his wife, Maureen, started GMW Carolina in 2006.

Gregory has been fortunate to have been part of building teams for companies that went through hyper-growth as well as his own company. He also has experience in working through economic downturns and taking responsibility to fix what is in his control. The focus has always been working with partners, customers, and building a successful business channel. His range of experience includes marketing, sales, support, training, and operations.

Gregory holds an MBA from Nichols