Organizations lose an estimated 5 percent of their annual revenues to fraud, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is offering some basic tips to help any organization prevent and detect fraud, in conjunction with International Fraud Awareness Week this week, which ACFE is helping support.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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, which is available at ACFE.com/fraud-prevention-checkup.aspx.
5. 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. The CFE credential is recognized by businesses and governments worldwide as the standard for fraud prevention and detection.
The “Fraud Week” campaign encourages organizations of all sizes and industries to host fraud awareness training for employees, conduct employee surveys to assess levels of fraud preparedness within their organization, post articles on company Web sites, newsletters and social media, and team with local news sources to highlight the problem of fraud. For more information about increasing awareness and reducing the risk of fraud during International Fraud Awareness Week, visit FraudWeek.com.
ACFE’s 2012 Report to the Nations on fraud is available for download at ACFE.com/RTTN.