Almost overnight, dentists have seen their incomes drop to zero with no end in sight.

The coronavirus has forced many dentists to close their doors, cancel patient treatments, and send employees home.

So, it’s not surprising that embezzlement is not a concern for many practice owners at this time.

However, by contrast, embezzlement is a huge concern for the thousands* of dishonest employees who are currently employed by dentists.

“Coronavirus has caused an unprecedented number of dental practices to suddenly close. This has created uncertainty for dishonest employees which will cause them to react and exhibit red-flag behaviors. “

Bill Hiltz

Two embezzlement facts you must to know.

Fact #1: EMBEZZLEMENT IS COMMON IN DENTISTRY

It’s a facthalf of dentists report embezzlement. (ADA 2019 study) That’s an epidemic proportion.

At any given time, about 1 in 40 practices is being embezzled.

So basically – if it is not happening to you, there’s a good chance you know someone who has been ripped off.

No one is immune.

Fact #2: EMBEZZLERS DISPLAY RED-FLAG BEHAVIORS

During the normal course of business every dishonest employee will, at some point, display “red-flag” behaviors consistent with embezzlement. You can click here to Learn More About Embezzlement Red Flags

Coronavirus has thrown a “curve ball” to embezzlers.

Dishonest employees facing a sudden and unexpected practice closure will not want to stop working. Of course, this statement is true for honest employees as well.

The difference is: dishonest employees are very likely to display red-flag behaviors, while honest employees will not.

Embezzlers fear being caught.

Embezzlers will do whatever it takes to keep stealing and more importantly – keep concealing.

  1. Embezzlers are compelled to steal. An embezzler’s need for money is undiminished. Embezzlers do not save money for a rainy day. They burn through the money as fast they they steal it.
  2. Embezzlers must conceal at all cost. Embezzlers will do whatever it takes to make sure they are not caught. This means controlling and concealing financial information from the dentist – especially when the office is closed

When dishonest employees are told to stay home until the office re-opens, they will take unusual strides to ensure they can still come into the office during the closure. Embezzlers need to make sure there are no loose ends. To do this, some will sneak into the office without the owners knowledge or permission.

A few red-flags to look for:

Here are a few examples of red-flags behaviors to watch for when your practice has been unexpectedly closed.

  • employees that appear overly zealous in their offer to continue working or coming to the office. They insist on coming to work, even if you are paying them to stay home.
  • employees coming in and out of the office at odd hours. During a practice closure, it is a good idea to check your security system (alarm) logs to see who has been coming into the office without your knowledge or permission.
  • employees “volunteering” to make bank deposits, reconcile books, collect payments, or do ANYTHING that is related to handling money.
  • employees that create “artificial scenarios” which require their involvement with financial matters. (e.g.: “I can pick up the mail each day, it’s on my way, it’s no problem” or “I need you to sign these checks before we close”)

If you observe these or other red-flag behaviors, why not use your downtime to brush up on your practice billing and payment systems to see what’s going on? If you run into a snag, have a question, or just need a bit of advice, do not hesitate to give me a call.

Now is the time

When this pandemic is over, the embezzlers that return to work will start stealing again, with renewed intensity.

It’s likely that during this time, you will be too busy with pent-up patient demand to have time to pay attention to your suspicions.

Therefore, if you have suspicions that an employee is stealing, this may be the best time for you to resolve that concern.

Take my assessment – it’s free and anonymous.

* 1 in 40 practices embezzled at any given time. Approx 160,000 dental offices. (1/40 * 160,000 = 4000 embezzlers)