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Friday, April 26, 2013

Loss Prevention Is Lying To You

So you're called into the back room. It's a tiny one with no windows and only one door. In the room is someone who identifies himself as being from Loss Prevention. He seems so nice. He tells you he's there to help you save your job. If you only tell him what he wants to hear, you can go back to work.

He's lying! Don't fall for it. Everything you say can and will be held against you. Be careful.

He asks you some questions that make it clear you're being accused of doing something wrong. Maybe it's stealing from the company. Maybe just punching in wrong. Maybe a violation of some policy. He says he's trying to help you, so you tell him everything. Yes, you did use a plastic spoon from the deli and didn't pay for it. Yes, your boss gave you a candy bar and said it was going to be destroyed anyhow, so you took it and ate it. Yes, you used your employee discount to buy something for your best friend. Yes, you forgot to punch in, so you went in and wrote down your best estimate of the time you came in.

That wasn't very careful, was it? You've just confessed to doing something wrong. Maybe even a crime. But he's so nice. He tells you the only way you can save your job is to write down everything he tells you to write.

He's really lying now. Say no! Tell him that you will be glad to write your own statement in your own words, and tell him you'll provide it to him the next day. If he says you need to write what he says or be fired, you're already gone. Don't believe him for one teeny, tiny second.

He tells you to write down what you did, only the way he puts it sure makes it sound worse than it was. He conveniently leaves out how your boss told you to do it or said it was okay. He leaves out how others of, say a different race or sex, do it all the time and suffer no consequences. He has you write down that you understand you violated company policy. Then he tells you to sign it.

Tell him to pound sand. Do not do this. If you do it, you're fired, and possibly arrested.

Let's say you believe this guy and write it all down. What's going to happen next? He grabs it, maybe leaves the room for a couple minutes, then tells you that you're fired. You're escorted out like a criminal.

If you are called into a meeting with Loss Prevention, that's a meeting where you need to be very aware that you are being accused of doing something wrong and you're probably being fired. They are not your friend. When in doubt, tell them you want to leave and speak to an attorney. Yes, they can fire you for leaving, but that's way better than admitting to something you didn't do, or admitting to a crime. You can always write up your response to the accusations calmly after you've had a chance to think straight later and send them to HR.


  1. What a rant....not sure where you were wronged along the way, but talk about "out in left field."

    With a bit of objectivity you may also have found that Loss Prevention meets with employees to help them--at least I think that is what I was doing over the course of dozens of sexual harassment investigations where scared store clerks were being belittled, coerced, and threatened by management and other staff. I can assure you those clerks were very pleased they spoke with me and that staff changes resulted in them working in a safer, more professional environment.

    I know it doesn't make for the drama you apparently seek in your writing, but the reality is Loss Prevention (and they are not all "guys" by the way) can help many staff members who speak with them.

    1. Well, Vince, I'm glad to hear you had good intentions when you investigated things like sexual harassment. However, I've had way too many people tell me they were put in a tiny room and told they were saving their jobs, only to find that it was all a lie. Sure, sometimes Loss Prevention guys (and gals) can help if the employee is the victim, but it's a serious mistake to treat them as anything but very dangerous.

  2. I just had a startling similar situation happen to me at my work place. Except they tell me I owe them an amount of money they didn't even provide, for doing something I was never told was wrong, and that he equaled to stealing. Something that as a member of management, I and my coworkers have always done. And I haven't been fired. Everything was fishy, but I was scared and alone with the LP officer in the office. I was made to agree, and now that I've had time and a clear head, I know the whole thing was wrong.

  3. Hello Donna,
    This is a very interesting article you have written; subsequently, finding a probable solution to these "internal(s)" or employee(s) would be the next step. Unfortunately, many retailers designate loss prevention employees with ambiguous chain of commands concerning employees. Additionally, there needs to be guidelines/policies to differentiate an employee who has done absent minded minor infractions such as forgetting to punch in and out; rather, have LP concentrate more on the veteran employees and managers that are defrauding their retail establishments in the tens of thousands of dollars +.
    I would like to see minor infractions like the forgetting to punch in and out, or ringing up your best friend for her birthday STOP, and instead be handled my their managers or supervisors on the floor. LP should concentrate more on external, and TRUE internal thefts! What I mean by internal theft is someone who is knowingly and intentionally defrauding the company for tens, sometimes even hundred of thousands of dollars.
    Think of it like this, an LP associate/manager/district whatever, will spend most of the time interviewing, hence achieving "admission of guilt" for minor policy infractions that are deemed criminal under duress!
    That's not cool at all!

  4. Hey Donna, would you know if for example LP fired a person from a company, would other companies that person applies for be able to see everything that happened between him and the company he got fired from?

  5. I accidentally deleted this comment by Kristin Hernandez (sorry!):

    Wish I had seen this before. But I got screwed entirely and I did nothing wrong I feel like I was set up and I never even stolen anything I was just forced to do alot just to walk out of there and he threatened me several times. He even made up scenarios that didn't even make sense. I did call him out on a couple of his lies. He even told me he had me on tape, but refused to show me said evidence. What makes me different from a customer? cause your lp employee shows the customers she caught what they did on the video tape. So why couldn't I see it? This blog or article or whatever is helpful for someone in my shoes.

    Everything this person said is dead on and what I experienced just the other night was worse. I just wish I had seen this sooner.

  6. My husband is currently having to agree to a probation agreement for a crime he didn't commit because of questionable LP practices similar to what is described above. And we have learned of other people who have had similar things happen. Is there any sort of movement working towards changing the legality of these LP practices? In our case, my husband was basically kidnapped for almost 6 hours (LP took his personal car keys) and told he couldn't leave until he signed a statement written as the LP employee directed. This coerced "confession" is the basis of why we must plea (taken out of context, what is literally written is quite damning), but had it been obtained in the same way by law enforcement it would have been inadmissible. Surely we are not alone in wanting to see the actions of LP fall under more scrutiny. I wish, so very much, that we had known our rights sooner!


I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.