In the anti-fraud business, we are focused year-round on a long and constantly evolving list of bad things that can happen to an organization.  Many of the threats we know by heart:  expense account fraud… contract and procurement schemes… check tampering… just to name a few.

We also don’t have to look far to find some pretty scary statistics on fraud.  For one, the ACFE’s Global Fraud Survey finds that organizations lose an estimated five percent of total revenues to fraud.

This is the world in which most fraud examiners exist.  Our days normally involve some activity that lends to learning about fraud, teaching about fraud, detecting fraud or trying to prevent it.

So it is easy to forget, sometimes, that outside of this fraud-immersed existence, much of the world is focused on other things.  Government agencies are working to meet deadlines and fulfill their roles. Companies large and small are conducting day-to-day business and trying to meet financial expectations.  Charities and other organizations are raising money to meet the objectives dictated by their mission statements.

For many hard-working professionals, fraud is a concern, but perhaps it is thought of as something that “happens when it happens.”  In other words, fraud is an ugly thing that occurs now and then and must be dealt with when it is discovered.

This perception is why I think International Fraud Awareness Week is so important.  This yearly campaign, which kicked off Sunday and lasts until Saturday (Nov. 3-9), provides the opportunity to put the focus squarely on fraud – not in a reflexive way – in reaction to a crisis, but in a proactive way.

Fraud Week also provides me with another statistic, and this one is very positive:  more than 800 organizations around the globe have signed up as official supporters of the campaign.  Supporters like LexisNexis host various activities leading up to and during the week to help support the cause.  Some are using this occasion to survey employees to assess levels of fraud awareness.  Others are hosting trainings and webinars, as well as helping to spread the word by including anti-fraud information in blogs, social media, e-newsletters and other communications.

Most importantly, participants are sending a message that fraud isn’t something to be swept under the rug.  It demands our full attention, and I feel that we must foster a culture of prevention and detection if we are to be successful in lessening its impact.

The statistics on fraud don’t lie.  Yet, if the lessons learned during Fraud Week help you or your colleagues shrink the dollar amount lost at your organization this year, then it will have been a successful week, indeed.

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