3 Steps to Begin an Anti-Fraud Program
So you need an Anti-Fraud program. But you are starting from the beginning. Nothing is currently in place. Or perhaps you’ve realized your current anti-fraud measures need a total overhaul. Where is “square one”?
Building an entire Anti-Fraud Program can feel incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes leaders look at our 6 Crucial Elements of an Anti-Fraud Program and believe it is something that needs to be finished in one sitting, so they put it down for another time. We see organizations missing these programs because they can't prioritize that much time to the task. They for that mythical "extra time" to appear. They don’t understand the urgency of their vulnerability to risk, and the job gets bumped to the next day and the next. The great news is you do NOT have to complete a program in one sitting. Beginning one can immediately benefit your organization. Keep these things in mind to maintain that perspective as you build your program:
You do not have to shut down all productivity or pause your business. You can begin building an anti-fraud program a step at a time as you continue with your day-to-day tasks.
You do not have to perfect your program before implementing it in your workplace. Your anti-fraud program can begin protecting your organization as soon as you start. The benefits begin immediately. You can adjust for your needs as you begin to understand them.
You do not have to do this alone. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel; take policies and procedures for anti-fraud programs that already exist and customize them to the unique needs of your organization.
Welcome to the beginning. Start with these 3 straight-forward steps today.
1) Fraud Policy—This is unquestionable. Your organization must have a fraud policy, and everyone in your organization should sign it ANNUALLY. This policy does a few things for your organization. It is a key step in protecting you from liability. You may have heard this story from us before: a jury found a woman “not guilty” because her company never explicitly told her not to steal from them. It also communicates to your employees that you are proactive in the fight against fraud. It helps set the ethical tone for your workplace: we are an organization that values integrity.
A full template of a Fraud Policy can be seen in our book. Be sure to have your legal representation review any document you create before having your workforce sign it.
2) Educate Your Workforce—Knowledge is power. This quip is endlessly quoted and expanded upon, and for good reason. Teaching your workforce about fraud helps build an environment where everyone is on one team battling a common enemy.
Some great starting points for Fraud Education:
The Fraud Triangle—Teach them the environment in which fraud occurs. Show them who typically commits fraud (anyone is vulnerable!). Exposing the profile of a fraudster helps humanize the rationalizations. It helps employees gain awareness of their own thoughts and motives, and they can even begin to support one another if they recognize need or rationalization.
Teach them the consequences of fraud; fraud hurts employees. Protecting the organization is protecting its people.
Teach them what to do if they suspect fraud. 43% of frauds are detected through an anonymous tip. Give employees a game plan for reporting instances of fraud.
You can participate in anti-fraud education in a couple of ways:
You can contact us to conduct a seminar at your organization. Our passion is teaching!
You can add 5-10 minutes of Anti-Fraud education to your regular staff meetings. Take advantage of our blog posts to raise awareness of fraud.
3) Plan Your Fraud Risk Assessment—A Fraud Risk Assessment is simple and does exactly what it suggests. It evaluates your organization’s risks and vulnerabilities to fraud. This process will give you so much valuable information to use in building your internal controls. For this process, gather your employees for a brainstorming session. If you have a larger organization, invite one person from each department. To begin, ask everyone one simple question: How would you steal from the organization? The creativity here will reveal so many vulnerabilities. If you have trouble getting started, begin with a review of the line items on your balance sheet starting with Cash in Bank, Accounts Receivable, or Inventory and ask “how can we steal in these areas?”. You will get so much insight and highlight issues that you can then use to develop controls of protection.
Don’t let the priority of your anti-fraud program slip away due to busyness or lack of a confident starting place. Just start. When you start talking about fraud, you start your program. Sign a policy, raise awareness, and begin the process of understanding your specific, unique needs.
Empowering small businesses to develop strong Anti-Fraud Programs is our mission. We provide consultations to design, evaluate, and improve your anti-fraud program. You can also get a step-by-step guide to design a program that can be tailored for your specific needs by purchasing Steve Dawson’s book, Internal Control/Anti-Fraud Program Design for the Small Business.
If you think there may already be fraudulent activity in your company, contact us today through our website.