Running a business comes with risks, such as theft, fraud and misuse of resources. To curb these problems, businesses hire loss prevention specialists to formulate and implement effective protection measures. Although a high school diploma is sufficient to be hired for this position in small businesses, large businesses may require a bachelor’s degree in business administration, retail management or risk and security management. You also must pass a criminal background check.
Loss prevention specialists assess the workplace to identify areas that are susceptible to theft or fraud, and evaluate existing policies to establish their weaknesses. In a supermarket, for example, the specialist may review the effectiveness of the closed-circuit television systems to ensure it covers the entire shopping area. He also ensures there are enough supervisors and customer-service agents in the store to increase chances of spotting suspicious shopping activities.
It is the duty of a loss prevention specialist to create policies or programs that can meet the needs of a company. Depending on the nature of the business, the policies may cover issues such as handling and depositing money, reducing workplace accidents and securing insurance covers. For example, a loss prevention specialist working at a restaurant may create a policy requiring cash be deposited daily, rather than weekly in order to reduce opportunities for theft and fraud.
In addition to developing policies, the loss prevention specialist may hold training sessions or create manuals to teach employees about the policies. Also, the specialist may educate an organization's workers on common loss control and prevention strategies, such as keeping the security pass cards they use to gain entry into the business safely and reporting loss immediately. Loss prevention specialists in management positions hire, direct and supervise the activities of loss prevention staff.
When there is an accident or case of fraud or theft in an organization, the loss prevention specialist investigates the situation to identify the culprits or causes. For example, when a business is robbed of office equipment, the loss prevention specialist may study security footage and interview security guards and other employees to establish what they know. In some cases, the specialist may work with law enforcement agencies to investigate incidents.
With the advancement of computer technology, thieves and fraudsters are finding new ways to cheat electronic security systems and computer applications, such as accounting and payroll software. Loss prevention specialists must monitor emerging theft and fraud trends to ensure their organizations are not vulnerable and are well equipped to handle high-tech security compromises (Ref.2). They often do this by reading loss prevention journals and attending relevant workshops, conferences and seminars.
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