November 13, 2023

Help Safeguard Your Business Against Occupational Fraud

One of the major responsibilities of business leaders is to help protect employee and company data. This International Fraud Awareness Week, from November 12–18, is dedicated to minimizing the impact of fraud and promoting anti-fraud education and awareness among business leaders and their employees.

Fraud includes any intentional or deliberate act to deprive someone else of property or money by deception or other unfair means. Workplace fraud, also known as occupational fraud, is committed by people who work for or do business with an organization.

Examples of workplace fraud include:

  • Stealing cash
  • Payment tampering schemes
  • Billing schemes
  • Expense reimbursement schemes
  • Payroll schemes
  • Inventory fraud schemes

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) 2022 Report to the Nations, the median loss caused by a single case of occupational fraud is $117,000. The cost of 21% of occupational fraud cases is more than $1 million, with an average fraud case lasting 12 months before detection.

In addition to understanding the types of workplace fraud and associated costs, it is critical to understand how these practices may occur. More than half (62%) of perpetrators are in roles with higher levels of authority, including managers, executives, and owners. However, fraud can be committed by anyone. All employees should be aware of behavioral red flags that can indicate fraud. These red flags include:

  • Living beyond one’s means
  • Financial difficulties
  • A close personal relationship with vendors or customers
  • Control issues or an unwillingness to share duties
  • Irritability, suspiciousness, or defensiveness
  • Shrewd or unscrupulous behavior

To help prevent fraud, businesses should consider putting anti-fraud controls in place. According to the ACFE’s 2022 report, the presence of these controls is associated with lower fraud losses and quicker fraud detection.

One example of anti-fraud control is a fraud prevention check-up. The ACFE’s fraud prevention check-up provides an assessment to determine a business’s protection against fraud. The check-up can identify gaps in your business’s fraud prevention processes, help you establish a relationship with a Certified Fraud Examiner who you can call when fraud questions arise, and bolster the confidence that investors and other stakeholders have in the integrity of your business’s financial reports.

In addition to the fraud prevention check-up, Shred-it® has six tips to help reduce workplace fraud, with data from the ACFE’s report:

  • Implement employee training: Since 55% of fraud is reported by employees, they should know what behaviors can indicate fraud. Reports of fraud are more likely to be submitted through hotlines following employee training; however, only 61% of organizations currently have fraud training available for their employees.
  • Tip lines: In 2022, 42% of frauds were detected by tips—this percentage is almost three times the percentage of the next most common fraud detection method. Maintaining a hotline for tips increases the chances of earlier fraud detection and reduces losses.
  • Surprise audits: The implementation of surprise audits led to a 50% reduction in median cost and median duration, making them an important part of fraud prevention strategies.
  • Data monitoring: Data monitoring allows organizations to keep track of content and changes made to files. Following a case of fraud, 64% of organizations have implemented proactive data monitoring as an anti-fraud control.
  • Document management: Thirty-two percent of fraudsters conceal their frauds by altering physical documents, and 25% do so by altering electronic documents or files. To help prevent this, a comprehensive document management policy can keep confidential information organized, compliant, and safe. Specifically, documents are identified, labeled, and securely stored until they are no longer needed.
  • Information destruction: Partnering with a reliable third-party information destruction partner can help prevent any compromises to your business’s confidential information. Information destruction partners can help your business destroy customer information before a fraudster can access it.

Shred-it® has a variety of information destruction services and shredding options to best meet your company’s needs. Learn more about how Shred-it’s® secure document and hard drive destruction services can help protect your business from occupational fraud.