Integrating your POS with Video Surveillance to Prevent Theft and Liabilities

By: Randy Bragg, MBA, MISM

Point of Sale (POS) and video surveillance systems serve important purposes on their own; however, integrating your POS system with a video surveillance system can help to prevent several types of losses and/or liabilities from happening to restaurant/hotel/retail owners including:

1. Fraudulent credit card use - the video record of the transaction can be used to identify the person presenting and using the credit card. This will not only help to deter fraudulent credit card use but will also assist law enforcement in the prosecution of the thieves if a crime is committed.

2. Fraudulent credit card denials - the video record of the transaction will prevent customers from challenging their credit card transactions at a later date.

3. Employee theft - the video record of the transaction, or lack of transaction, can be used to identify multiple types of employee theft including failing to charge for items, undercharging for items, overcharging for items and direct theft of money from the cash drawer.

In order for the integration of a POS with video surveillance to be effective there are several items that must be taken into account:

1. Transaction text overlay - the integration should allow for a text overlay to be printed into the video as each transaction is completed. This text should include a record of the entire bill including the date, time, and items ordered and total amount. When closing a bill the text should show the final bill in total. This is critical in order to properly review transactions for undercharging, overcharging, or failing to charge for some items. It is not only important that the individual order be identified but also that it can be proven that the item was not added to the final bill later.

2. Abnormal transaction alarm/alert - the video software should be able to track alerts based on predefined transaction types such as "no sale" transactions. This will cause the software to record the transaction and create an "event" in the log file so that all of these transactions can be easily reviewed.

3. Event Log - the video software needs an event log that has multiple filter and search capabilities. This log will show the date, time and short description of each event that occurred. By clicking on the event the user will be taken directly to that portion of the video. An "event" is defined as each transaction that is recorded or identified to be recorded by an alarm/alert.

4. Storage and security - the video software must provide for proper storage of at least 30 days of video plus it must be properly secured to prevent tampering. In general, the video storage should not be on the same computer as the POS software and access to editing functions should be limited to only the key management staff that need this ability.

The use of an integrated POS and video surveillance system has many benefits and helps prevent a variety issues including employee theft and various forms of credit card fraud. With the proper system restaurant business owners can enjoy a positive return on investment and have increased control over business activities. However, it is important the integration is properly designed and the following checklist can be used for this purpose.

a. Select POS software that is not restricted when it comes to integration with a video surveillance system. Specifically ask this question of your vendor in order to avoid any surprises.

b. Select a video surveillance system that has a built in POS interface with the functionality you want. At a minimum the system should be able to provide a text overlay of all transaction and all final checks, have an event log and have an alert system to monitor pre-determined transactions.

c. Ensure that the video surveillance system has proper storage and security functionality.

d. Work with an experienced integrator who can ensure your system is properly functioning, provide technical support and can remotely monitor the system to ensure it is fully functional.

Article reprinted with permission of Randy Bragg/Brownstone Companies.

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