This week, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) is doing its part to bring the issue of fraud to the forefront with its sixth-annual International Fraud Awareness Week.
According to the official website, Fraud Week aims to "encourage business leaders and employees to proactively take steps to minimize the impact of fraud by promoting anti-fraud awareness and education."
More than 900 organizations around the world have signed on to support the campaign this year, by hosting fraud awareness seminars for employees, conducting surveys and tests to measure fraud preparedness, and spreading the word through social media and other news sources.
Although we all know that fraud exists and that it should certainly be avoided, it seems that the ACFE's efforts to raise awareness around it are essential - a 2012 study estimates that organizations lose five percent of their annual revenues to fraud.
"Organizations of all sizes and types are susceptible to fraud, and it can have a measurable impact on their bottom line,” said ACFE President and CEO James D. Ratley. “While prevention and detection is a year-round endeavor, International Fraud Awareness Week shines a spotlight on fraud – and supporters of the campaign demonstrate their understanding that spreading awareness is key in combating the global fraud threat.”
Some ACFE-approved tips to detect and prevent fraud:
Be proactive. Establish and maintain internal controls specifically designed to prevent and detect fraud. Adopt a code of ethics for management and employees. Set a tone at the top that the company will not tolerate any unethical behavior.
Establish hiring procedures. Every company, regardless of size, can benefit from formal employment guidelines. When hiring staff, conduct thorough background investigations. Check educational, credit and employment history, as well as references. After hiring, incorporate evaluation of the employee's compliance with company ethics and antifraud programs into regular performance reviews.
Train employees in fraud prevention. Once carefully-screened employees are on the job, they should be trained in fraud prevention. Are employees aware of procedures for reporting suspicious activity by customers or co-workers? Do workers know the warning signs of fraud? Ensure that staff know at least some basic fraud prevention techniques.
Conduct regular audits. High risk areas, such as financial or inventory departments, are obvious targets for routine audits. Surprise audits of those and all parts of the business are crucial. A good starting point in identifying fraud risks and establishing a strategy to prevent such losses is ACFE's Fraud Prevention Check-up (PDF): ACFE.com/fraud-prevention-checkup.aspx.
Call in an expert. For most firms, fraud examination is not a core business component. That's why, when fraud is suspected or discovered, it is imperative to enlist the anti-fraud expertise of a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). The CFE credential is recognized by businesses and governments worldwide as the standard for fraud prevention and detection.
What are you and your organization doing - during Fraud Week and throughout the year - to stop fraud?
Check out these additional anti-fraud resources:
- KnowledgeLeader's Fraud Topic Page - KnowledgeLeader has over 160 pieces of content focused on fraud, including articles, work programs, policies, audit reports and more.
- Fraud Awareness Tips on the Protiviti Blog - Protiviti's series of tips on fraud awareness helps raise awareness of the various ways that fraud can affect an organization and the proactive steps organizations can take to better position themselves in the ongoing fight against fraud.
- ACFE's Fraud Prevention Check-up - A simple test created by the ACFE to help you gauge your company's fraud health.
- LexisNexis's Fraud of the Day - A daily email subscription that offers commentary, event links and other resources pertaining to government fraud.