Charity fraud awareness

“Fraudsters are opportunistic and enterprising, creative and innovative. They are quick to identify new targets and vulnerabilities and to adopt new tools and techniques.”

That quote from the Fraud Advisory Panel illustrates why all organisations cannot afford to become complacent about the dangers of fraud. It’s often said that no matter what processes and procedures are put in place, when it comes to full prevention people are both the weakest link and the front-line defence.

For charities and other not for profit organisations this highlights the importance of ensuring that everyone is engaged in fraud awareness, whether they be full-time employees or volunteers. Particularly so as recent analysis by the Charity Commission has revealed that charities are “continuing to fall victim to the most prevalent threats” including phishing.

The analysis was undertaken in advance of Charity Fraud Awareness week which takes place from the 21st to 25th of October 2019. The Charity Commission will be sharing the results of the survey in detail during that week. In the meantime they have issued a new reporting form which is to be used to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission. In this context the Commission considers serious incidents to be adverse events, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:

  • harm to your charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work (who are collectively referred to throughout this guidance as people who come into contact with your charity through its work)
  • loss of your charity’s money or assets
  • damage to your charity’s property
  • harm to your charity’s work or reputation

The Charity Commission is also encouraging charities to take steps to fight fraud by getting involved in the awareness week, downloading information packs and sharing case studies. There are also some simple steps which charities can take to help their people to identify and prevent potential fraudulent actions.

For example, a quick chat with their internet service provider could help charities to ensure that spam filters are optimised to reduce the chances of spam and phishing emails getting through. Similarly, by deploying a virtual switchboard and programming call pathways appropriately it may be possible to block certain call types or to transfer them to members of the team who have been specifically trained in telephone fraud awareness.

Equally, charities may decide to block premium rate outgoing calls as a means of both preventing internal fraud and stopping employees from innocently returning calls which originated from premium rate numbers. Here again, the greater the awareness of potential approaches used by fraudsters, the greater the likelihood that fraud attempts will be turned aside.

Recognising the special role which charities play in society, Callagenix offers charities a discounted rate in respect of hosted phone services and call charges. This package, together with the availability of 0300 charity telephone numbers, could help charities to optimise their telephone services whilst helping to ensure that those in need of the charity’s services can get in touch for no more than the cost of a normal landline call.

Written by Alison