Best Practice #1: Review Marketing Programs and Promotions
The surveillance department should review each marketing program or promotion for weaknesses, vulnerabilities, or security concerns. For example, coupons for a free meal or drink without an individual serial number prevent you from tracking where the coupons were issued and by whom. It may not sound like a big deal, but when you’re trying to find out why so many team members and their friends are staying in the hotel or drinking at the bar, it will be.
Best Practice #2: Monitor Marketing Programs and Promotions
After the program or promotion has been reviewed and approved, it is time for it to be launched. While you may think that your job is over, it actually is really beginning. It is after the launch that most programs fail. It is at this time that unforeseen problems and vulnerabilities will arise. In other words, this is when it will be attacked.
Expect this to happen and you’ll be prepared. No matter how much time you spend reviewing the program beforehand, scams will happen. This is because you can only plan for what you expect or believe will take place. We usually don’t know how team members, our guests or the bad guys will react.
Once the program or promotion is launched, take the time to monitor it to ensure that the rules, policies and procedures are in place and followed. At this point it’s important to monitor what type of response and which players or guests you are getting to the promotion. Are you getting the responses and players or guests that the program or promotion was designed to attract?
For example, an overwhelming response to the program or promotion may indicate that you came up with the right program or promotion at the right time, or it could mean that it was poorly designed, and players or guests are aware of the “hole” and are taking advantage of it.
Best Practice #3: Review Exception Reports
Exception reports list exceptions or violations to internal controls. Every critical transaction has or should have controls that must be adhered to in order to protect the organization. When these controls or procedures are broken, an exception report is generated. Normally these reports are automatically generated by the computer application or put together by the audit department. These reports should ultimately be directed to and reviewed by the director or senior management of the department where the exception occurred.
Consistent review of exception reports and information will deter and detect potential and existing problems, issues, vulnerabilities and internal/external theft. It is extremely important to remember that during most incidents of internal theft and fraud a control was bypassed, ignored or broken. Proactively searching for these exceptions and determining why they occurred are the most effective steps to protect an area or property.
I highly recommend that the surveillance department review exception reports and information from key areas and critical transactions. If you don’t, then you’re trusting that someone else will tell you if anything is wrong. What if they don’t review the reports or, even worse, they are involved or are the actual perpetrators? The fate of your department and your property rests with you. Review your exception reports!
Best Practice #4: Train Your Personnel to Recognize and Report Suspicious Activity
Most surveillance and loss prevention teams are not trained to look for or recognize theft or fraud occurring within marketing programs and promotions. Furthermore, most supervisors, managers and directors who work within the department running the promotion are not trained to recognize theft or fraud.
If you accept the premise that theft and fraud will occur (and you should) in this critical area, then you must be prepared. Train yourself and your agents to recognize the scams and methods used to beat these programs and promotions. Study exception reports until you understand them. Work with the auditing team to learn what reports should be reviewed and help one another spot trends and anomalies.
I recommend that you train key departments, such as auditing and the departments responsible for operating and monitoring the program/promotion, to spot and report unusual activities and transactions. These team members are in the front lines and see these things. They are a wealth of information. They just don’t know what you want to know or even how to report it to you. Use them, they are a great resource. Train your personnel!
Fortunately, you can succeed in the protection of these key areas through the application of tried-and-true surveillance techniques. You just need to step in and make it happen.