National organization offers tips for preventing unethical behavior

Organizations lose an estimated 5% of their annual revenues to fraud, according to a report published last year by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

The ACFE offers these basic tips any organization should be aware of to help prevent and detect fraud:

  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 coworkers? 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 a business are crucial. A good starting point in identifying fraud risks and establishing a strategy to prevent losses is ACFE's Fraud Prevention Check-up.
  5. Call in an expert. Since fraud examination is not a core business component for most firms, when fraud is suspected or discovered, it may be wise to enlist the antifraud 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.