Fraud Hotlines and Fraud Awareness
Coming soon, International Fraud Awareness Week offers an excellent opportunity to promote anti-fraud awareness and education. This year’s opportunity to “shine a spotlight on fraud” during International Fraud Awareness Week will take place from November 16 to November 22. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has been a major sponsor of Fraud Awareness Week for the past seven years. This event provides access to ACFE resources suitable for sharing with employees, colleagues, clients, and the public (ACFE 2014).
For example, you can compare your fraud policy to ACFE’s sample fraud policy, made available on the resources webpage. You can create an anti-fraud training program using ACFE’s design guide. You can publicize your organization’s commitment to preventing fraud by distributing ACFE’s customizable press release. And you can download a printable handout called “5 Fraud Tips Every Business Leader Should Act On.” Those five tips are summarized below.
Each of the tips presents an affordable opportunity for awareness and education during Fraud Awareness Week and throughout the year. We have suggested a basic internally-directed activity for each, although many organizations engage in creative internal and external programs.
1. Be proactive
Adopt a code of ethics, evaluate internal controls, and identify vulnerable areas of the business.
Activity: Distribute copies of the code of conduct, supplemented with ethics-related personal messages from the leadership team to all employees and suppliers.
2. Establish hiring procedures
Conduct thorough background investigations, as permitted by law, verify education and employment histories, and check references.
Activity: Ensure hiring procedures are documented and consistently followed.
3. Train employees in fraud prevention
Ensure your employees know the warning signs of fraud.
Activity: Use posters and brochures to remind employees about the warning signs; develop training modules to build on this awareness activity.
4. Implement a fraud hotline
As the ACFE has reported before, fraud is most likely to be detected by tips, such as those received through an anonymous hotline.
Activity: If your organization does not provide a confidential ethics and fraud hotline, investigate your options now. Hotlines increase the chances of catching fraud. If you already have a hotline, prominently feature it on every ethics and fraud-related awareness and education activity you offer.
5. Increase the perception of detection
Communicate regularly to staff about policies and anti-fraud practices, such as how to use the hotline, and the potential consequences of fraudulent behavior.
Activity: If you are not regularly communicating, use International Fraud Awareness Week to kick-off an ongoing effort. If you are, keep up the good work!
To discuss how a fraud hotline and overall ethics program can help your organization reduce losses, please contact Ethical Advocate.
ACFE. 2014. “Anti-Fraud Resources.” http://www.fraudweek.com/resources.aspx
ACFE. International Fraud Awareness Week website. http://www.fraudweek.com/
Ethical Advocate. 2014. “Hotlines Increase Chances of Catching Fraud.” http://www.ethicaladvocate.com/blog/158/hotlines-increase-chances-of-catching-fraud