March 14, 2014 – Vicki Pero - Insights

What is a Cancelled Transaction and Why Should I Care?

Cashier Making Change Cashier Making Change

Cancelled…Cleared…Void Transaction.  These terms can all potentially describe the same type of activity at staffed parking locations that utilize some form of fee computer.  So, what are these transactions all about and why does it matter?
When you see one of these on your journal tape, fee computer shift summary tape or other system generated report, it means that the employee who performed the transaction entered one set of information into the fee computer to calculate the fee owed, canceled out this information and then re-entered new information.  There are lots of legitimate reasons for this activity:  a validation is overlooked, the customer doesn’t have enough money and needs to back out of the lane to go to an ATM and so on.  The reason you should care about these transactions is that they can also indicate an attempt to bypass built in system controls and commit fraud.

How Would that Work Exactly?

Most locations are equipped with a fee display, and so an employee who wants to avoid alerting a customer to suspicious activity benefits from initially entering the correct fee amount to ensure this appears on the fee display.

In fraudulent activity scenarios, when the employee reenters the transaction information s/he will substitute a grace period ticket, add a validation to the ticket that reduces the fee, process the transaction as an exception ticket or enter some other information that reduces the fee.

What Else Should I Look for that Would Indicate Suspicious Activity?

Usually, the cancelled transactions will appear in summary format on the shift summary tape.  If there are more than 2 or 3 of these on a shift, this should be considered highly unusual.  It’s also common to see a high number of cash drawer manual vends, since the drawer typically doesn’t open automatically for $0 fee transactions.

I recommend that these transactions be reviewed on a journal tape or system screen that will display every step that occurred in the process.  This will help you to see the events that took place, look at the actual ticket and confirm whether the transaction fits into one of the legitimate categories.  If it doesn’t, you will want to look at more transactions to determine if there is a problematic pattern and follow your company’s employee investigation and progressive discipline policy to address the issue as applicable.

Are you interested in more information about cancelled transaction auditing?  uDrive subscribers have access to tools and templates that can help.  These can be found in the Resources for the Parking Manager,  Resources for the Parking Operation and HR Tools sections.