Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Is Your Dealership Inviting Organized Crime?

Lot of cars next to harborHow would you react if you discovered that five vehicles had been stolen from your dealership’s lot? What about when police tell you that organized criminals were responsible for the theft — and that those five vehicles were likely shipped overseas to be used in activities related to drug trafficking, terrorism, and other crimes?

Believe it or not, this exact scenario is happening more often, thanks to a common dealership practice: keeping keys in window-mounted lockboxes.

Why Dealers Love Lockboxes


Dealers who use window-mounted lockboxes say one of the reasons they prefer this key control method is it prevents salespeople from abandoning prospects on the lot to retrieve vehicle keys.

However, consider that 60 percent of the car-buying process happens online, with buyers spending nearly 15 hours researching their intended purchase. When prospects visit your store, they’ve already done their research and don’t want to spend time wandering the lot. Even if they did, having prospects in the middle of your sea of inventory only distracts and confuses them, delaying the sales cycle.

Having the vehicle they want to test drive already pulled up when they arrive for an appointment is going to make for a more positive experience than dragging them out to the lot to retrieve a key from the lockbox.

Why Thieves Love Lockboxes


In fact, keeping keys in lockboxes could make you a target for organized crime. Storing keys with each vehicle — as opposed to storing them in a secure location separate from your inventory — simply makes thieves’ jobs easier.

Sure, lockboxes are more secure than keeping keys inside an unlocked car, but as one Tennessee dealer realized, they’re not as foolproof as you might think. Professional thieves have ways to thwart lockboxes, such as using a master key they’ve purchased online, intercepting the fob signal, or simply smashing the box open.

How to Protect Your Inventory


To reduce the risk of theft, it’s important to implement a key control solution that meets at least the following criteria:

  • Prevents unauthorized users from removing keys
  • Keeps keys separate from vehicles
  • Allows salespeople to easily check out keys for test drives

Be sure to continually review your key security measures, especially since new vulnerabilities crop up every day.

To learn more about how organized criminals are targeting dealerships and what you can do to protect your business, download our eBook “Is Your Dealership Inviting Organized Crime?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Customer Tip: Create a Daily Key Control System Checklist

Daily Key Control System Checklist
There’s a reason — several, in fact — some of the most successful leaders use checklists. Not only do they help you stay organized, they also help you delegate and achieve excellence. The same principles apply to effective key management.

With a small daily time investment in your KeyTrak system, you can save time in the long run and prevent hours of headaches in the future. Use the checklist below as a starting point and feel free to customize it for your organization. There are some tasks you should perform throughout the day and others you only need to handle at the end of the day. Once you get into the habit of using this checklist, it’ll become second nature.

Throughout the Day


Inspect the Drawer(s)

Log in, open each drawer, and quickly scan the contents to make sure all keys are properly attached to the tags and all tags have been returned to a slot.

Check the System Summary Screen

Check the System Summary screen for an at-a-glance overview of recent key and user activity. This screen is continuously displayed at the bottom of the main screen, making it easy to keep tabs on system transactions.

Review Automatic Email Reports

If you haven’t already, consider setting up automatic email reports so you can conveniently monitor system activity from your desk.

Pay Attention to Pop-up Messages

If a pop-up message appears on the screen, don’t ignore it. Be sure to follow any instructions it includes. Users should be trained to contact a system administrator, their manager, or KeyTrak support if they encounter an issue.

At the End of the Day


Ensure All Keys Have Been Returned to the System

Making sure all keys have been returned to the system at the end of the day helps prevent security breaches. Use the System Summary screen to quickly see how many keys are checked out.

Run Keys Out and Tag Inventory Reports

If you see that keys are still checked out of the system at the end of the day, run Keys Out and Tag Inventory reports to see which keys haven’t been returned and which users checked them out. Keep reports on file for at least 90 days in case you need them to investigate an incident.

Perform a Backup

Back up the system via an external media device or KeyTrak Cloud Backup and ensure you have a data recovery plan. This ensures that in the event of an event such as a power outage, you’ll have a map of each drawer’s contents.

If it’s not possible to complete all these steps personally, whether you’re going to be out of the office or the business closes after you’ve left for the day, you can share any or all of these tasks with a trusted system administrator.

Taking a few minutes every day to go through your checklist and monitor your KeyTrak system will help your business be secure, efficient, and successful.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Effective Key Management Saves Time and Lives

Corrections officer watching inmates
According to the Justice Department, about 4,400 people die in U.S. prisons every year, which equates to 12 per day. Whether it’s a fight among inmates or an inmate needing medical attention in their cell, your correctional officers (COs) need to react quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, when precious seconds matter and a CO needs a key, policies and procedures often get tossed aside. It’s not ideal to search and fumble for the right key and sign it out when every second counts in a dangerous circumstance.

Under the stress of the situation, whoever took the key may not put it back immediately. If the key isn't promptly returned and later left in an unsecured location, that opens the door for an inmate to swipe the key. If a CO loses a key after failing to complete the checkout log, then there’s no telling who might have it or who needs to be held responsible for losing it. It might even go unreported.

What happens when you do find out that a key has been lost or stolen? You may have to change multiple locks in your facility. That means dishing out significant funds, which could have been used for other facility upgrades.

You may think that these problems are unavoidable and that they happen in every jail or prison. However, there are several ways that you can avoid these issues in your facility.

Don’t Rely on Outdated Procedures


Old metal lockboxes and handwritten logs are outdated procedures that represent a major security and key management risk for your facility. Secure your keys with an electronic key control system that allows quick but secure access to keys.

Hold Employees Accountable


Make sure you know who’s responsible for keys by keeping accurate key audit trails. Keeping accurate audit trails helps with avoiding employee theft. With an electronic key control system that automatically tracks access, you can quickly know if a key isn’t returned and who removed it, holding employees accountable and saving you time and money.

Avoid Slow Key Checkout Methods


With a quick and easy key checkout method, you can make sure COs don’t feel compelled to grab keys without signing them out first because they don’t have time to waste in an emergency. An electronic key control system with a prompt checkout procedure, such as a biometric fingerprint reader, ensures COs aren’t wasting any precious seconds.

An electronic key control system can also help your COs in times of duress — especially when a CO may need to discreetly notify a supervisor of a problem without letting the inmates know. Being able to do so will ensure a quick response time and prevent the situation from escalating.

When all it takes is a second for things to go south, it’s imperative to have efficient procedures in place that don’t hinder safety or security. An efficient key management process can save your facility time, money, and lives.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

CO Training Doesn't End After Orientation

Prison guard tower
Correctional officers (COs) face dangerous situations every day. The 428,000 COs tasked with overseeing 2.3 million incarcerated individuals in this country are well aware of the stresses and risks of the job.

Let's break down the numbers. Correctional institutions have a higher rate of nonfatal workplace-related injuries (7.9 per 100 full-time workers) than ferrous metal foundries (7.4), sawmills (5.9), coal mines (3.7), and forestry and logging operations (3.1). In fact, the national average across all sectors is 3.1 — less than half of what COs face every day.

It would stand to reason that occupations with a high amount of risk, such as being a CO, would warrant a high amount of training. After all, commercial pilots, law enforcement patrol officers, and military soldiers receive extensive training before going out into the world and being entrusted with others' lives.

Unfortunately, that's not always the case for COs. Prisons and jails across the country are filled to the brim with inmates, while a shortage of COs is leaving gaps that are being filled by tired and overworked COs or, in a move that's becoming more common, inexperienced support staff. In some states and facilities, new COs are rushed through a basic orientation class then thrown to the wolves.

The realities of your staffing needs might prevent you from providing COs with much more than orientation before they're sent inside, but that doesn't mean training should stop there. It's more important than ever to maintain routine training — even if it's revisiting basic security processes like key management — for new and experienced COs alike.

Here are some areas where routine training is critical:

Defusing Dangerous Situations


Your COs will inevitably face dangerous situations that could escalate into fights, attacks, or riots. Sometimes it's better to be the brains in the situation than the brawn. Training on how to defuse dangerous situations helps COs keep the peace. A course on crisis intervention, for example, helped Deputy Warden Robert Montoya stay calm while negotiating with inmates during the New Mexico State Penitentiary riot in 1980.

Surviving When the Worst Happens


Physical attacks are going to happen, and COs need to be prepared for how to react. Hand-to-hand combat is probably part of your basic training program for COs, but it's an area that should get frequent refreshing. The ability to escape an attack and de-escalate the situation should be muscle memory. This skill is especially important for the support staff filling shortage gaps since inmates will anticipate they can take advantage of staff members' inexperience.

Catching Smuggled Contraband


From weapons and drugs to food and cell phones, there are any number of things your facility considers contraband, and keeping those items out is a growing challenge. Outsiders — and even insiders — are always searching for and evolving ways to get contraband inside. Routine training should cover the latest methods for smuggling contraband, such as drones, and reinforce the consequences for COs who are caught involved in smuggling.

Maintaining Security Processes


All it takes is one little slipup to give an inmate a chance to escape or instigate problems. Consider a scenario where a cell key is lost by a rookie CO. How soon would your key management officer know the key is missing? How much time and money would you waste rekeying cells because the CO was careless or wasn't held accountable? From making sure gates are closed to practicing sound key management, all security processes should get routine training refreshers.

Even if your COs get extensive training before their first day on the job, it's still important to reinforce these areas. COs must do their job right day in and day out, and even one mistake can lead to an attack or escape attempt. What do you do to make sure your COs always follow procedures?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

How to Predict and Prevent Employee Theft

Man concealing money in suit jacket
Every year, workplace crimes such as employee theft costs U.S. businesses $50 billion. Most of these thieves aren’t hardened criminals who’ve been plotting to defraud their employers from the outset. In fact, the vast majority (96 percent) don’t have prior fraud convictions. With the right motivation and opportunity, employees will try to justify stealing time, money, information, or assets from your organization.

Not all employees steal, of course, so how do you spot and stop insider threats?

Three Characteristics of Employees Who Steal


While insider threats take many forms, people who have stolen from their employers can typically be described by one or more of the following three characteristics.

Disengaged


According to Gallup, only 33 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. Apathetic employees are toxic to the work environment — they miss more work, negatively influence coworkers, cost money in lost productivity, and drive customers away. You might have guessed that they’re more likely to steal as well. In fact, business units with high numbers of disengaged employees lose 51 percent more of their inventory.

Desperate


Desperation can send seemingly trustworthy veteran employees down a slippery slope to fraudulent behavior. Circumstances that can drive people to extreme measures include:

  • Death
  • Divorce
  • Family problems
  • Financial difficulties
  • Addiction struggles
  • Medical issues
  • Job troubles
  • Unstable life circumstances

Faced with any of these issues, an employee could feel there’s no other solution than to misappropriate resources. They might try to justify their actions with excuses such as “The company makes millions every year. A few thousand won’t hurt,” or “I’ll return the money when I can.”

Disgruntled


Disgruntled employees can wreak havoc on your company, retaliating for what they feel is unfair treatment, whether it’s low pay, disrespect, or termination. They may steal proprietary information, facility keys, computer hardware, equipment, money, inventory, time, or things as small as office supplies.

Deterring Theft


Understanding why employees steal is one thing, but preventing theft is another. There are, however, a few things you can do to help nip fraudulent activity in the bud.

Address Suspicious Behaviors


Certain behavioral warning signals can indicate whether or not an employee is more likely to swindle your company:

  • Living beyond their means
  • Developing an unusually close relationship with a vendor, customer, or other business partner
  • Objecting to sharing job duties
  • Displaying a wheeler-dealer attitude
  • Acting irritable, suspicious, or defensive
  • Harassing other employees
  • Frequently showing up late or not at all
  • Abusing internet access by visiting inappropriate websites or spending too much time browsing

It’s important to monitor these behaviors and promptly address any areas of concern.

Hold Employees Accountable


As with most processes, your approach to security should never be “set it and forget it.” Management should be actively involved in ensuring the honest, appropriate employee conduct your organization expects. The following steps are a good start:

  • Have clear company policies that outline expectations for performance and conduct.
  • Enforce predefined consequences for noncompliance.
  • Implement checks and balances such as having employees share responsibilities or requiring two approvals for transactions.
  • Revoke access privileges and confiscate company property immediately when employees leave.

By holding employees accountable, you can reduce opportunities for theft.

Detect and Investigate Suspected Theft


Unfortunately, even with precautions in place, theft does still happen. To help you detect and investigate suspected theft, implement the measures below:

  • Secure restricted areas or equipment with hardware or software that can track user access.
  • Set up automatic alerts for suspicious activity on key control, accounting, or other systems.
  • Establish a tip hotline or other reporting process employees can use to anonymously report any fishy behavior they’ve observed.

Once you’ve been tipped off to possible wrongdoing, be sure to act promptly to minimize the impact on your organization.

By being proactive and aware of what’s going on inside the four walls of your business, you can avoid being a part of that $50 billion tab for employee theft.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Multifamily Reputation Management Starts Offline

Person's finger leaving review on smartphone with boxes in background
How many people read reviews before leasing an apartment? A better question is, how many don’t? According to studies by Apartments.com, Entrata, NMHC/Kingsley Associates, and reputation.com, the majority of prospective renters — 80-98 percent, depending on which study you look at — want to know what other people have to say about an apartment community before they sign a lease.

With those numbers, it’s not hard to see why reputation management is a hot topic in the multifamily industry. You can find a lot of tips for monitoring and responding to reviews, but don’t forget that reputation management starts offline. After all, if residents have a positive living experience, what reason do they have to leave a poor review?

To create that kind of experience, you have to consider what residents really want. Some people value amenities such as outdoor kitchens or valet trash service, but many prioritize features that should be givens, like privacy and safety.

Here are three steps you can take to give residents the protection they need to feel that your community is the place they want to call home.

Respect Living Space


Even though they don’t own their homes, apartment residents want to maintain a sense of personal space and feel secure where they live. In fact, 63 percent of millennials say they’d move out of an apartment that lacks security.

A big part of maintaining those expectations is holding your staff accountable for when and why they can access units. If an employee enters an apartment without permission or proper notice, the resident who lives there will feel like their sense of privacy has been violated.

Case in point: A former tenant of a Washington property complained in a review that his apartment had been entered without permission or written notice three or more different times while he was away from home, and his front door was left unlocked.

1-star review: My apartment was entered at least 3 different times when I was not home and my front door left unlocked.


Having a clear key control policy and keeping accurate key activity records will discourage employees from entering apartments without authorization. In addition, using an electronic key control system that automatically notifies residents when the key to their unit has been removed increases transparency and reduces unwelcome surprises.

If you use smart locks, it’s important to treat security tokens such as fobs and cards with the same level of security you would traditional metal keys. For example, you wouldn’t want to program a token with access to all the units on the property, and you need to control who can use any preprogrammed security tokens.

Minimize Package Theft and Loss


Over the past decade or so, e-commerce sales have steadily grown. In 2018, they accounted for 14.3 percent of total retail sales, up from 13 percent in 2017 and 11.6 percent in 2016. As you’ve probably discovered, what this trend means for multifamily properties is more packages. The average property receives 150 packages a week, and 270 a week during the holiday season.

1-star review: Our packages are getting stolen from our front desk.It should come as no surprise, then, that many property reviews feature complaints about packages being stolen, the office refusing to accept deliveries, or residents not knowing when packages have been delivered to the leasing office.

Package delivery is a sore spot for property managers and there’s no easy solution. Still, it’s essential to maintain resident satisfaction by implementing an efficient package tracking method for logging deliveries. If your system of choice notifies residents via email or text that their packages are ready to be picked up, that's even better.

The National Apartment Association’s white paper “How to Effectively Manage Package Acceptance” includes some further suggestions for addressing package problems.

Safeguard Private Information


The moment a prospect submits a rental application, you have access to a wealth of sensitive information and documents: Social Security number, credit history, pay stubs, etc. Once someone signs a lease and moves in, you also have keys to their mailboxes, which can hold similar sensitive documents.

1-star review: OUR IDENTITY WAS STOLEN. Great job for not safeguarding tenant credit information.Failing to safeguard a resident’s personal information won’t do any favors for your reputation. In a review of a Michigan complex, a woman complained that her and her husband’s identities had been stolen a couple weeks after their rental application was run. She described how a leasing agent was stealing residents’ information, applying for credit in their names, and then retrieving any correspondence related to the thefts from the people’s mailboxes before they received it.

It’s important to implement both cybersecurity and physical security best practices to secure digital records as well as keys to mailboxes and other areas that contain residents’ personal information.

There’s a lot that goes into reputation management. Monitoring and responding to reviews will help you shape your online reputation — but that’s after people have already voiced their opinions. By creating a positive living experience, starting with the three steps mentioned above, you can influence how people talk about your property online and prevent them from rushing to complain about you on review sites and social media.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Customer Tip: Create a Tag Preparation Process

Tags in KeyTrak drawer
Any key control process is only as effective as its users. That extends to simple tasks like preparing key tags for use with your KeyTrak system. To make the process secure and efficient, follow the best practices below:

  • Ensure a designated system administrator or manager is the only person who can access fastening tools. This will prevent keys being removed from or added to the system without authorization. If a key needs to be removed from the key tag, the administrator must be notified to reattach it.
  • Tag keys as soon as possible and put them in the system. The longer you wait to start tracking keys, the more your risk grows.
  • Store tags and fasteners separate from the system. Ideally, keep tagging supplies near a PC where the administrator or manager can access our Web Plus remote software. That way, administrators don’t have to transport tagging supplies back and forth to the KeyTrak system, and they can prepare tags and add new keys to the system without tying up the system.
  • Follow industry best practices for labeling key tags. In certain industries, labeling key tags is acceptable. For example, in the automotive industry, key tags usually include a vehicle’s year, make and model. Generally, however, you should avoid labeling key tags with door numbers or other details about the key. This is especially true for multifamily properties or high-security facilities where a lost key puts someone’s safety at risk.
  • Closely monitor your supply of key tags so you don’t run out. To order more key tags quickly and easily, visit our online supplies catalog.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure your key control process is as effective as possible. For more helpful information about getting the most out of your KeyTrak system, be sure to read some of our other customer tips as well.