Fight Scammers the Old-School Way

Scam artists are relentless in finding ways to take your money. But some old-school methods are still effective for protecting yourself. Here are suggestions.

Fortify your computer and your phone. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and update your protection regularly. Consider firewall software to prevent unauthorized access. Change the password on your computer router from the default, enable and set up the router firewall, and keep your router software up-to-date.

Clean out your wallet. Make sure you’re not carrying personal identification numbers for debit or credit cards on a scrap of paper. If you do, anyone stealing your wallet will have open access to your checking account. Sign all your cards. Another old tip also bears repeating: Don’t carry your social security card with you.

Delete all spam emails immediately without opening them. Never click on an attachment or follow a link to a web page unless you know the sender. List your telephone number on the national “do not call” list. If a telephone solicitor calls, ask to be put on the company’s “do not call” list and then hang up.

Obtain a free copy of your credit report. Go to and order a free copy of your credit report from at least one of the three major agencies. Review it for mistakes, accounts you don’t recognize, or unknown credit inquiries. If you find something wrong, report it immediately.

For more suggestions, please contact us.

Take These Steps to Help Prevent Fraud in Your Business

How can you prevent employee fraud in your business? Here are four suggestions.

  • Screen job applicants. Check work references, criminal records, and professional recommendations. By instituting a screening policy, you may save a lot of cash and grief. Just remember to treat every applicant equally, and get written permission for background checks.
  • Reconcile bank accounts. A standard and simple internal control is to separate employees who pay bills and make deposits from those who reconcile accounts. As an owner, making time to personally review deposits and disbursements on a regular basis can deter fraudulent billing or cash skimming schemes.
  • Secure inventory and supplies. This can be as simple as regularly changing combinations on warehouse doors or locking supply cabinets. Laptop computers are especially vulnerable to theft, so make a priority of securing them.
  • Get a cash control review. Having a trained set of eyes inspect your books, records, and operations can pay for itself many times over. Skilled auditors can ferret out scams and help your business develop stronger controls against criminals, both inside and out.

If you’d like assistance with this or any of your business concerns, give us a call.

Financial Internal Controls in Heartland Churches

For over twenty-five years, Keller & Owens, LLC has served the professional needs of faith-based, not-for-profit organizations, especially churches. We have seen a number of churches with sound, reliable controls over financial transactions and resources. Sadly, we have seen many with weak and incomplete financial internal controls that undermine the reliability of data used by management, lenders and regulatory agencies. Weak or incomplete controls also raise the risk of loss of resources through financial fraud. In addition, significant financial frauds often result in the disruption of normal church operations, distrust of church leadership and even church splits.  However, the most damaging effect occurs as the general public’s view of the Christian church declines even further. Of course, any inaccurate financial reporting or any theft of precious church resources is unacceptable.

Recently we invited over 12,500 churches in Kansas and Missouri to participate in an on-line survey to tell us about their financial internal controls. This report provides the results of that survey. Among other things, the report discusses the following:

  • Framework for sound internal controls
  • Financial internal controls defined
  • Setting the tone at the top
  • Segregation of duties
  • The importance of internal controls in fraud prevention and detection

We hope the findings in the report will help churches assess and strengthen their financial internal controls.

The free report is available here or through our website under Not-for-Profit when you click on Resources/Links & Downloads.  We are available to answer your questions or to assist you in assessing the internal control system of your church and then making recommendations for improvements, if needed. Let us know if we can help.

You can contact Rich Bili at or Robert Simmons at for more information.

Phishing Scams

Don’t Fall for the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

WASHINGTON – IRS SPECIAL EDITION TAX TIP 2014-08 – Every year, people fall prey to tax scams. That’s why the IRS sends a list of its annual “Dirty Dozen”. We want you to be safe and informed – and not become a victim. Read more

Business startup

Every Small Business Should Establish Controls

Every week reporters publish stories about companies that have lost thousands, even millions of dollars because of fraud. They recount the dreadful details of business owners who learned – too late – that a lack of basic controls left their companies vulnerable to pilferage, embezzlement, and other types of misappropriation. Read more

Phishing Scams

IRS Warns of Tax-time Scams

WASHINGTON – IRS SPECIAL EDITION TAX TIP 2014-02 – It’s true: tax scams proliferate during the income tax filing season. This year’s season opens on Jan. 31. The IRS provides the following scam warnings so you can protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim of these crimes: Read more

Phishing Scams

IRS Warns of Phone Scam

WASHINGTON – IRS SPECIAL EDITION TAX TIP 2013-13 – The IRS is warning the public about a phone scam that targets people across the nation, including recent immigrants. Callers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer. The scammers threaten those who refuse to pay with arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license. Read more

Phishing Scams

Beware of Bogus IRS Emails

“WASHINGTON – IRS TAX TIP 2013-19” – The IRS receives thousands of reports every year from taxpayers who receive emails out-of-the-blue claiming to be from the IRS. Scammers use the IRS name or logo to make the message appear authentic so you will respond to it. In reality, it’s a scam known as “phishing,” attempting to trick you into revealing your personal and financial information. The criminals then use this information to commit identity theft or steal your money. Read more

1040 W-2 W-9 forms

Even Small Companies Can Be Hit With Payroll Fraud

Unless the owner handles all aspects of computing and paying payroll, there is room for fraud in every small business. The fact that your company has only a few employees does not guarantee that you will be safe. Read more

IRS Warns Consumers of Possible Scams Relating to Hurricane Sandy Relief

WASHINGTON – Revised version IR-2012-91 –  The Internal Revenue Service today issued a consumer alert about possible scams taking place in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Read more