In a recent conversation with a utility who doesn’t offer bank drafts, I learned the reason why is because of a concern about the security of their customers’ bank account information from hackers.

While this is commendable, is it really a valid reason not to offer your customers the most convenient way to pay while, at the same time, saving your staff time processing payments?

Is this a valid concern?

In my forty years of working with utilities and utility billing software (yes, I’ve really been in this business that long!), I’ve never heard of any customers’ bank account information being compromised by a data breach.

A much more common occurrence

What I have experienced first-hand during my career are five cases of fraud or embezzlement by utility employees, ranging from blatantly obvious to relatively cunning. One of the more elaborate schemes resulted in prosecution and made the news.

In fact, one of those cases is the reason why Logics’ Utility Billing software includes a Void Payment Edit List which reports all voided payments in a batch. All because an astute finance director recognized one cashier had a much higher volume of voided payments than the other cashiers. It turns out there was a reason why – this employee was pocketing cash from some of the voided payments!

While the actual number of cases of fraud represents only a fraction of the utilities I’ve worked with, it is still a much more valid concern than bank draft information being hacked.

Increase bank draft participation

If you’re not offering bank drafts (or if you are and don’t feel like you have as much participation as you’d like), check out my free ebook entitled 5 Surefire Ways to Save Time Processing Payments.

How can you guard against fraud?

Recapping the recommendations included in the above-referenced post, here are some best practices you should ensure your office is following:

  • Assign each cashier a separate cash drawer
  • Issue hand-written receipts only in emergencies
  • Receipt payments as they happen
  • Account for cash overages and shortages
  • Monitor voided payments
  • Have a second employee double check each deposit
  • Review all adjustments to customer accounts

There’s still time to complete the 2019 Utility Fee Survey

If you haven’t yet completed the 2019 Utility Fee Survey, please click here to complete the survey. It should take less than five minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at gsanders@edmundsgovtech.com or call me at 919-673-4050.

Please feel free to share this survey with your peers at other utilities.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete the survey and for sharing it with other utilities.

Unsure if your cash management practices are adequate?

If you’re unsure if your cash management practices are adequate, please give me a call at 919-673-4050, or email me at gsanders@edmundsgovtech.com for more information about how a business review could help you find out.

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© 2019 Gary Sanders

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