Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 40) – Stealing the Boss’s Identity

Betty Bookkeeper Headshot

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I got a new credit card today. Well, technically, I got a new “company credit card” today. When the boss wasn’t around, I went ahead and called his credit card company and told them we had lost his company card and needed a new one. They asked me for all of the usual identifying information – social security number, mother’s maiden name, address, phone, account number, etc. – and of course, I gave the guy on the other end of the line all of that information. I then told him that I wanted to change the password question “because the last bookkeeper got fired, and we need to protect my boss’s identity.”

The guy at the credit card company didn’t even miss a beat – after all, companies get new bookkeepers all the time. “Which question would you like?” the guy asked me. “Do you want a question about your high school, pets, favorite cities…” and on and on and on.

“How about the question about pets,” I answered innocently.

“Okay. What is your pet’s name?” he asked.

I thought really quickly, then answered, “Moron.”

“Excuse me,” the guy on the phone said.

“My pet’s name is Moron,” I repeated sincerely. What I wanted to add was – “and Moron’s my boss” – but I managed to hold my tongue… barely. It was so hard.

“Okay. Moron it is,” the guy said in a serious tone while clicking away at the keys on the other end of the phone.  “Anything else I can help you with?”

“Oh. I almost forgot,” I added. “Our office has moved. The address I gave you was for the old address. The new address and phone number is…” and then I gave him my home address and personal cell number.

Again, I heard clicking on the other end of the line as the poor dupe updated my boss’s “new information.” When he was done, he said, “You should get that credit card in the mail by…”, which turned out was today.

So, I swung by my house and checked the mail during lunch. The card was already there. So I went ahead and treated myself to lunch – on the boss, of course. After all, he doesn’t pay me nearly enough for all the excellent work I do for him. And since the boss never opens the mail – especially that particular credit card bill– what he doesn’t know what hurt him.

I wonder what I’ll buy tomorrow… Maybe some new earrings. I’ve always wanted pearls…

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How to Prevent this Kind of Bookkeeper Theft:

You would not believe how incredibly frustrating it is to call into your credit card company and find out that all of your password information has been changed. Not only can your password info be changed, but some people even go so far as to change the “mother’s maiden name” question. Of course, the simplest way to stop this is to catch it early. You can do so by doing the following:

  • Open your credit card statements, or check your transactions online regularly. If anything seems questionable – no matter how small or large – call the credit card company immediately and ask them how many cards they’ve sent out. You can also verify that your security information is still what you originally created.
  • If they tell you your password information has changed, be sure to throw a high holy conniption fit and demand to speak to an account manager or “their boss.” Get this account closed immediately because whoever has your card can still make purchases even while you’re on the line. They will send you a new credit card with a new credit card number within a matter of days.
  • Get copies of your three credit reports as soon as you possibly can because – quite frankly – if your private information has been changed, there’s nothing to keep them from signing up for more credit cards at vendors you may never even have heard of. But, the good news is that every single one of those stolen cards will show up on your credit reports!, but not always all three of the reports, which is why you should spend the extra money to access all three. (In fact, for $14.95 a month at Transunion, you can actually access those three reports and credit scores for free every month. It may be worth it if you ever find yourself a victim of identity fraud.)
  • If a credit card company calls you and says there is questionable activity on your account, get online immediately and see what they are talking about. If they are contacting you, they are probably seeing something they’ve never seen on your account before. So even if you have your credit card on you, it never hurts to double check whatever charges they’re concerned about.
  • And lastly, make sure you know where ALL cards are at all times. I once had a client who ordered a card for his wife – a card which never arrived. It turned out, someone stole it from his mailbox and was shopping with it in the next town and my client never knew. Luckily, I caught it with the very next credit card statement when I asked for receipts that matched the charges, and we realized immediately what had happened. So even though the thief had managed to steal more than $7,000 in 15 short days, my client was not liable for a penny, especially because he disputed the charges right away. (Which is another good reason to check those statements every month.)

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Click Here to read the Previous Entry: Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 30) – The Double Payday Scam

Click Here to Read the Next Entry:  Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 55) – The Sister Company Scam


Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 30) – The Double Payday Scam

Dear Diary,

Today was payday – the second since I’ve been here.  I figured it was about time to test the Double Payday Scam – to see if my boss would actually catch me.

So, I started the day by doing the Payroll.  Just like two weeks ago, I created and took all of the paychecks to the boss to sign.  He signed them, with only the occasional request to see a corresponding timecard…then he signed mine without question.

I took the checks back to my office and set mine aside.  Then, I printed up another paycheck that I took back to him.

“What’s this?” he asked me, glancing briefly at my double payday.

“It’s a replacement check.  I double-checked my income and realized that I had entered my withholdings incorrectly, and QuickBooks took out too much in taxes.  So I voided the other one and reprinted this one.”

“Okay,” he said, shrugging and then signing my check.

And just like that – Double payday.  If he had asked me to produce the voided check, I would have gone back to my office and voided the first check… but since he didn’t, he’ll never know.  Even if he opens the bank statement (which let’s face it, he probably won’t), he’ll see the extra paycheck and think he’s just looked at the same check twice.

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How to Catch the Double Payday Scam:

All a small business owner has to do to catch the Double Payday Scam is to ask to see the voided check, or to insist that you will void all checks personally.  They can then refile the checks, and you have protected yourself… it’s that simple.

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Click Here to Read the previous entry:  Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 14) – The Carnage Begins

Click Here to Read the Next Entry:  Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 40) – Stealing the Boss’s Identity

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Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper: Paypal

Betty Bookkeeper Headshot

Dear Diary,

Betty Bookkeeper HeadshotToday I got an intriguing email.  The email was a confirmation from PayPal.  It said that we had spent $150 on an online order.  Since the company does not have a PayPal account, I knew it was a scam – a Phishing Scam, where some con artist is trying to get access to our account.  When you click on the links in the email, you are taken to a fake PayPal page where you are encouraged to log in and verify the purchase (or deny it), and then the fake website captures your real log in details and the con artist can then empty out your PayPal account.  Any good back office person knows – you never click on links in emails from financial websites (because it’s easy to “cloak” the website links).  You always go directly to the original website and log in there. 

Obviously the PayPal notice was a con…but it got me thinking.  Our company does not have a PayPal account…but we could.  It only takes a few minutes to set up, and then you can make payments from any checking account or credit card account that you link to it. 

So I opened one. 

Then, I went online and made a purchase to Office Depot. 

When I checked the bank balance online, I saw that the payment was debited as a PayPal account to Office Depot.  As far as I’m concerned, the explanation from the bank is simple enough to satisfy the boss.  Now, I don’t need to forge checks unless I really want to. 

Now the only question is…what should I buy

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In this mini story, there are actually two cons I’ve brought up:  The Phishing Scam and The PayPal Weak Link. 

The Phishing Scam is an actual scam where a thief sends a fake email encouraging you to click on the link in the email.  By doing so, they can capture your login information and then clean out your bank accounts.  PayPal Emails are the most common financial cons.  After PayPal, sending emails from banks would be the second most common way con artists get information from their victims.

There are three easy ways to spot these scams: 

  1. Banks and financial institutions have standard, precise emails already created that always use the same verbiage.  Phishing emails, on the other hand, often have misspellings and/or sentences that don’t make sense.  If anything doesn’t seem right with any financial institution’s email, it probably isn’t from your financial institution.   
  2. When you open the email, you will see the “From” address is not necessarily from the financial institution it claims to be from.  Whatever is after the “@” sign is the website address.  Anything in addition to the normal address probably means the email is a scam.  (For example:  …@paypal.fakesite.com or …@fakesite.paypal.alerts.com.)  Both the paypal.fakesite.com and the fakesite.paypal.alerts.com are completely fake because whatever comes before the .com is the site.  That means, these sites would be fakesite.com and alerts.com…not PayPal.com.   
  3. And finally, banks and financial institutions openly encourage customers to NOT click on links from their emails because Phishing Scams are so common.  Instead, they will tell you to go directly to their actual website to log in so that you can verify if the email is from the bank or not (and thus the alert is fake or not). 

Also, it’s common to get emails from banks you don’t even have an account with.  If that happens, obviously you can ignore those…but if you are concerned that an embezzler has opened an account in your name, just print out that email and go down to the bank to see if you have an account or not. 

AND when in doubt – go directly to the source…never click on the links in an email from a Financial Institution. 

As for the second con – The PayPal Weak Link: 

It is very, very easy to open a PayPal account and link it to a checking account…any checking account.  PayPal has a very simple verification process, which means that creating a PayPal account is easy for anyone with access to your checking account information, including your bookkeeper.  From there, it is very easy to steal money because PayPal and the bank account link together in order to create instant money transfers.  Plus, money can be sent to anyone with another PayPal account, and everyone takes PayPal these days (including airlines and other travel agencies), so stealing becomes very easy.

Therefore, to protect yourself from someone linking a PayPal account to YOUR checking account, you need to link it first.  In other words, you need to be the one to create a PayPal account with your checking account.  PayPal only allows a checking account to be linked ONCE, which means no one else can use the checking account information.  Once you have linked it, keep that information to yourself.  There’s no need to share it with your bookkeeper or anyone else because business’s should stick to using Bank Bill Pay and writing checks…Period.  PayPal should only be used by one person…the creator of that account.

Thus, if you don’t have a PayPal account, start one immediately in order to protect your checking account.  If PayPal does NOT let you create a PayPal account, then an embezzler has already linked to your checking account, and you need to consider closing it.  This is one of those huge companies that you just can’t avoid, and you really shouldn’t avoid. 

Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 55) – The Sister Company Scam

Betty Bookkeeper Headshot

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Dear Diary,

Today I became a business owner.  That’s right, I’ve opened my own business and am about to make a million dollars the easy way – with little or no money down.  Okay – I spent a little money.  But technically, it wasn’t my money.  It was my boss’s money – or maybe I should call him my “investor” – not that he knows he’s an investor.

If only all those companies touting their “make a million dollars without doing any work at all” plans knew how easy it really was… because my way really is the “no work necessary” way.

Anyway… I went down to the courthouse today on my lunch break, a little bit of petty cash in hand.  I registered a new “DBA,” also known as a Fictitious Business Name.  The form only cost $20 and now I have a business name.  The lady behind the counter told me that I would have to run the new business name in the newspaper for 30 days to announce my new business venture, but it can be any newspaper in the county.  I found a small newspaper company that will do it for about $25 for the whole month.  Pretty good deal, huh?

So once I had my Fictitious Business Name document in hand, I went down to the bank and opened up a “business checking account” for $15 a month.  I even went to the same bank as my boss’s bank.  Figured it means less driving around when I have to go the bank for him.  And normally, I wouldn’t pay so much for a checking account, but again, it’s not my money.

So guess what my new company’s name is…

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Well, Diary, you know how I work for “Smith’s Distribution Company”.  I named my company “Smith’s Distinguished Corporation.”  The reason – stealing, of course.  I’ve seen a lot of deposits come across my desk and I noticed a pattern on the [ad#Word Checks].  People tend to write the checks to “Smith’s,” “Smith’s Dist.,” or “Smith’s Dist. Co.”  Seeing all those checks, I suddenly realized that I can totally steal those checks.  Since “Smith’s Distribution Company” is not fully printed on the check, I can put it into my new business checking account and the tellers will assume that the abbreviations on the checks are short for the name of my company.  They’ll probably even assume that the name of my company is just a sister company to my boss’s business.  And unless he goes down to the bank and asks if I have my own business checking account, there’s no real way that he’s going to know what I’m up too.

After work, I actually made my first deposit.  It was a check for $1,200.  See – the experts were right.  You do have to spend money to make money.  All I had to spend was $60 and I made my first $1,200.  This is going to be sweeeeeet!

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How to STOP the Sister Company Scam:

As mentioned above, it’s nearly impossible to know if someone in your company has begun this scam.  You would first have to guess the Sister Company’s name as closely as possible before you can even look it up – although you can try and look it up at your local County Recorder’s Office.  Most likely, you won’t find anything online about the Sister Company because the Embezzler would have to advertise their theft for it to show up in search engines… and there’s no way they’re going to admit to anyone but a diary that they’re a scum-sucking thief.

Now, just because it’s hard to spot the scam, doesn’t mean it’s hard to stop the scam.  The reason this scam happens is because it’s an easy “crime of opportunity.”  It gets by because no one thinks to double check it, then prevent it.  To do this, all you have to do is get an “For Deposit Stamp” (or to put it another way, an Endorsement Stamp).  e

Think about this:  When you go to a large retailer like Target, what do they do with checks?  As soon as the cashier receives the check, they run it through the machine, and the machine prints an endorsement on the back.  That prevents the check from going into any bank account but the one linked to that business.  That’s what a “Deposit Stamp” can do for you.  When you stamp a check on the back with your company name, account number, and the words “For Deposit Only,” the bank will then make sure that check gets into the correct account.  Period.  It’s that simple.  You can also get a stamp for the front of the check that will stamp your company’s full and accurate name, but the best way to prevent this kind of fraud is to get an Endorsement Stamp.  This kind of custom stamp is often $10-$20 at online sites, but I found a deal to get a free stamp at www.iPrint.com – all you pay is Shipping and Handling. That’s a $15 value for $3.49 S&H total. Check it out and get yours today if you don’t already have one: [ad#Button – Free Stamp]

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Click Here to Read the Previous Entry:  Diary of a Bad, Bad Bookkeeper (Day 40) – Stealing the Boss’s Identity

How to “Find” Transactions in QuickBooks

This excerpt is from OUR EBOOK: How To Do A Year’s Worth Of Bookkeeping In One Day

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It’s so easy to “accidentally” enter transactions in QuickBooks that sometimes that it can be downright frustrating.  Luckily, it is just as easy to find and correct those mistakes.  To do that – to “Find” Any Transaction in QuickBooks, simply do the following:

  • “Find” the transaction by Pressing Ctrl + F.  This will open the Find screen, which looks like this (in all versions of QuickBooks):

  • Click on the Advanced Tab at the top (shown in red).
  • Select “Amount” in the “Filter” box (shown in orange).
  • Click on the “=” sign in the Amount Area (shown in yellow).
  • Enter the Amount in the box (shown in green).
  • Press Ctrl + Enter (or “Find”).
  • All Matching Transactions will show up in the bottom (as shown in blue).
  • If you see your transaction, double click it to open it.
  • Check to make sure all the information is correct and change anything that is not.  Press Ctrl + Enter to save the transaction.

Once you’ve found the transaction and opened it, all you have to do is change it and then “Save and Close” it.  It’s that simple to change a transaction in QuickBooks.

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Other Excerpts from OUR EBOOK: How To Do A Year’s Worth Of Bookkeeping In One Day