Education is a highly effective fraud prevention technique for companies. Studies have shown that companies with anti-fraud educational programs in place can cut their fraud losses in half. By educating employees, management is giving them the tools to help look for and stop fraud. This information helps them know what behavior is acceptable and not acceptable.
The training does not have to be elaborate. It simply has to show employees what to look for, highlighting the most common areas of abuse. A company’s training session could (should?) include things like this:
- Introduction to fraud: Provide the basics about fraud, how it is committed, and how it affects the company.
- Areas of the company most vulnerable to fraud: Tell employees about the most at-risk areas and assets of the company so they can be on the lookout.
- Common ways that fraud could be committed at the company: Give concrete examples of some of the most common frauds that employees might witness.
- How fraud is detected: Help employees find and report fraud by educating them on what fraud looks like and what constitutes suspicious behavior that should be reported.
- How to report fraud: Give employees options for reporting fraud, including reporting to direct supervisors, moving up the chain of command, and using anonymous reporting methods such as hot lines.
- What the company does with fraud tips: Tell employees what happens with their fraud tips, including how management evaluates them and follows up on them. It is also important to inform them how employees’ identities are protected (or not) throughout the process.
- Who to contact if more information is needed about fraud: Give employees resources in case they have questions or concerns they would like addressed privately.
It is also critical to inform employees about the consequences for unethical behavior. Management must model ethical behavior and must approach instances of fraud in a consistent and fair manner. Regular updates on the anti-fraud effort should be made, preferably with an annual session that informs employees about changes in the company’s ethics policy and a continued commitment to ethical behavior.