Fraud prevention: It’s not all bad

Published: Thursday November 13, 2014

Think for a moment about people in uniform you sometimes meet. What's your default opinion? Are they unsmiling, process-driven and inflexible? Or are they friendly, community-oriented and helpful?

Of course they could be either, or maybe something in between - but in general most of us probably wouldn't think of them too positively. It may be unfair, but there it is. We've had the odd bad experience, and we allow ourselves to extrapolate from it. 'You can't park there.' 'Cycles attached to these railings will be removed.' 'Ticket barriers are closed 30 seconds before departure.' 

Most organisations tend to see fraud prevention in this way - in other words, as a wholly negative experience. It's all about keeping the baddies out.

We ought to think of it more positively. For one thing, preventing fraud improves margins, so it's good for stakeholders and for the business as a whole. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) nearly a quarter of frauds cost businesses at least $1 million - so anything that can systematise the process and reduce the problem has to be a good thing.

Instilling a more automated approach to fraud prevention is good for staff too. With the right processes in place, it means they are freed from time-consuming preventative administration tasks and can get on with adding real value to the business.

But most importantly, it's also good for customers. How so? Well, if you put smart and intuitive systems in place, those processes will identify problem areas without putting obstacles in the path of genuine customers, so their transactions and their overall experience will be improved. 

Reduced losses mean reduced costs, because there are fewer bogus individuals creating a drag on the business. This can help genuine customers too, because it gives organisations the option of improving their offer in some way - via promotions or reduced prices, perhaps, or via the development of new services.

Fraud is like the grit in the oyster that could well produce a pearl: it obliges organisations to budget for it, to manage the risk and to put preventative procedures in place. With a well-oiled, data-driven fraud management system, the business should actually see real improvements in the overall speed of customer registration. 

So let's not think of fraud prevention as a jobsworth in a uniform. It's doing us a favour. If we put sound systems in place backed by robust data-driven insight, potential fraudsters will look for weaker targets elsewhere, while we share the fruits of our improved business processes as we see fit - making life altogether more pleasant for our employees, our stakeholders and our customers.

For more points of view on fraud and to find out about our approach to fraud management, visit 

* Data from the ACFE's 2014 Global Fraud Study, 'Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse'

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