Theft in Your Dental Office
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In preparing this blog post, I interviewed several of our clients, fellow dental industry colleagues of mine and emailed for feedback over 40,000 dentists nationwide and here are the top 10 ways we learned professional criminals are stealing from dental offices.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Dental Practice (CDP), nearly 49% of the dental practices that responded to a survey on theft by employees reported having experienced employee theft; nearly 46% of those practices reported experiencing theft or embezzlement more than once.
Pretty alarming, right?
Top 10 Theft Issues Found in Dental Offices
Dental front office team members are opening business checking accounts in the name of the dental office and depositing checks from insurance companies.
Theft of both front and back office supplies.
Dental office team members writing down patient credit card numbers and making purchases online with patient credit cards.
Dental office team members failing to post cash payments to ledgers and instead writing off balances or deleting procedures.
Writing off or deleting procedures for family members or friends.
Dental office team members processing virtual credit card payments (received from dental insurance companies) through personal merchant accounts such as Square or PayPal.
Dental office petty cash misappropriated or stolen.
Fake dental insurance bills are sent on behalf of your practice and the check is sent to friends or family members of the dental office team.
Checks have been made out to CASH. A familiar face can get away with this at a bank by using a rubber stamp of the doctor’s signature or forging the doctor’s name. (Do not have rubber signature stamps in the office.)
Staff has used the company credit card for personal use. (Carefully review your statements.)
What can you do to safeguard your dental office?
Consider outsourcing your front office administrative work. Using a company like Dentistry Support will allow you to have your payments posted remotely and you handle the deposits personally.
Be an Active Leader: It is important that the doctor participate in the management of the front desk. Act like you care about the business side of your practice and understand the business systems that are used in your office. All policies and practices pertaining to handling money in your office, must have your sanction and approval.
Reconcile with your Accountant or CPA every month. If the numbers are off, get a 3rd party company involved.
Run a month end and review adjustment types.
Upload Fee Schedules and do not run your ledgers off of UCR. When you do this, there is a lot of room for adjustments to happen. When you have large adjustments you can hide money taken.
Get to know your patients, do they know your front office? If so, monitor their ledgers for write offs.
Keep inventory of all office supplies and know where it goes.
Watch invoicing and bills. Do not just write a check for a bill, know the bill, know the vendor.
Try to use EFTs for as many accounts as you have unless you will be monitoring all mail and personally taking checks to the bank.
Go cashless in your office and place a sign up front.
Set up your own usernames and passwords for insurance company websites and assign limited access logins to your dental office team members.
Limit permissions in your dental software.
Get rid of Petty Cash.
Remove all front office staff and go to a fully remote team who cannot physically touch anything in your practice. It is much easier to control access (and shut it off).
Cross train employees and switch their roles every month.
Split up workflows randomly so one person is not fully dedicated to a single position.
Implement touchless credit card processing. Never let your team touch a patients credit card.
Watch for warning signs such as employees spending outside of normal means, unexplained adjustments or out of balance situations and high insurance aging or patient aging.
Have someone else work your Dental Accounts Receivables. When someone else is researching payments and denials you have removed this from inside of the office. There are many ways outstanding claims can hide money being stolen.
We continue to update this blog with tips and tricks from people in the industry. Do you have a story or situation you think we should share with our followers? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Knowledge is power and this information should be shared with our dental families.
Happy to Help,
I assume this goes without saying, however sharing this information comes with a great responsibility. I am nervous about it. I am scared it will get into the wrong hands (or be seen by the wrong eyes). This comes from the fact that this blog is read by those wanting to protect themselves as well as those potential thieves. This information can be used for either purpose which is the scariest part. This is not meant as a ‘how-to’ instruction manual. I must caution those who are reading this, if you are reading this with ill will in mind, you will be caught and your consequences are great. Please be warned.
These materials are intended to provide helpful information to dentists and dental team members. They are in no way a substitute for actual professional advice based upon your unique facts and circumstances.This content is not intended or offered, nor should it be taken, as legal or other professional advice.You should always consult with your own professional advisors (e.g. attorney, accountant, insurance carrier). To the extent Dentistry Support has included links to any third party web site(s), Dentistry Support intends no endorsement of their content and implies no affiliation with the organizations that provide their content. Further, Dentistry Support makes no representations or warranties about the information provided on those sites.