The 2021 Charity Fraud Awareness Week has the strapline “We Can Do This” to hammer home the message that criminals can be prevented from targeting charities through a strong focus on security.
A raft of charity sector and crime prevention organisations are involved in the event including the Charity Commission, Cyber Scotland Partnership, and Fraud Advisory Panel.
“All charities, NGOs, and not-for-profits are susceptible to fraud and can be targeted,” warns the Charity Commission. “Those providing services and supporting local communities may be especially vulnerable to fraudsters attempting to exploit current national and global crises to carry out fraud and cybercrime.
“This means that now – more than ever – charities need to be fraud aware and take steps to protect their money, people, and assets from harm.”
Here we look at how charities can get involved in the annual event. We also look at evidence showing the pressing need for charities to take action to counter fraud, due to increasing threats from cyber criminals.
Get involved online
Social media once again plays a strong role in promoting messages around cyber security through this annual event.
For any posts involving the campaign use the hashtag #StopCharityFraud, say organisers.
In addition, a Charity Fraud Awareness Week supporters pack with free content has been made available. This involves social media graphics, including animation for all platforms, as well as content for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
The supporters pack also contains website banners, posters and an email signature to further promote the campaign inline.
Also, charities will be asked to sign up to a new fraud pledge, with further details to be released ahead of the week.
Other suggestions for charities include releasing an article on their website on security and sharing top fraud prevention tips.
Mainstream media, such as newspapers and broadcasters, should not be forgotten too. Releasing a press release highlighting the charity’s commitment to the campaign is also advised.
Staff are central to charities’ efforts to tackling fraud. They can be charity leaders’ eyes and ears on the frontline, able to raise concerns over suspicious financial activity taking place. This could be among staff themselves involved in fraud, or external threats from criminals.
Charity Fraud Awareness Week organisers are urging charities to engage their staff to be aware of the risks and help in the fight against crime.
Suggestions include running a staff fraud awareness training session to make them aware of the risks.
A staff quiz on how to tackle fraud is another suggestion, as are team meetings and reminders to staff of key policies within the charity around security.
Advice to staff includes:
- Keeping software updated. Updating software is vital to keeping criminals at bay as updates can often involve improved security features
- Using strong passwords. This should be complex, involve numbers, letters and symbols. Using a password management application can help organise secure passwords
- Social media caution. Charity workers are advised not to divulge too much personal information on social media that can be used to help criminals gain access, such as mother’s maiden name or pet’s name
- Phishing is among risks charities face. This is where criminals send fake emails pretending to be reputable to gather financial information, including passwords and credit card numbers