Cash is the lifeblood of retail; it is also ripe for employee theft and counterfeit. Savvy retailers employ procedures to audit employee cash handling, and to train personnel on how to spot invalid currency. Mistakes might happen, but with procedures in place, deliberate acts of fraud are harder to carry out.
Counting the Till
Cashiers start a shift with a float of cash that allows them to give proper change to customers as the day begins. At the end of the shift, the cashier must confirm the amount of cash in the till is equal to the amount of the float plus any cash transactions that have occurred. Retail procedure dictates that a manager prepare a float and the cashier double-count the cash to confirm the amount. At the end of her shift, the cashier counts the cash in her till to confirm it balances with the amount of cash that should be in the drawer according to the sales register.
Monitoring Register Transactions
Despite till counting, it is still possible for employee theft to occur. An employee might accept payment for an item but not enter it into the register, pocketing the money. She might also enter a fictitious coupon discount into the system, which would reduce the customer's amount owing but still charge the customer full price. To prevent these acts, the register screen which lists sales items as they are entered should be clearly visible to the customer. The register cash drawer should always remain locked, and the cashier should not be able to open it unless a sale is recorded.
Looking Out for Counterfeit
Accepting counterfeit currency is usually not a deliberate act on the part of retailers. Training staff to spot counterfeit and to undertake counterfeit-detection techniques provides a first line of defense against counterfeit. Counterfeit currency cannot be exchanged for real money, even if it was accepted unknowingly. The federal government provides retailers with posters that describe security features on U.S. currency. The treasury department also makes available training materials for retail staff on how to spot counterfeit.
Making Bank Deposits
After the cash has been properly handled at the till, it has to make it to the bank. Procedures around bank deposits are key to confirm that the correct amount was placed in the bag and that it was either deposited or left with the driver of a secure vehicle tasked with bringing the money to the bank. A manager should prepare a deposit slip and double-count the cash the cashier placed in a deposit bag after her shift. Having two employees to initial a form that states they were witness to the deposit drop-off is an additional confirmation.
Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).