Advice issued to protect charities from criminal threats

Charities are being urged to “build their defences” to protect themselves against an increased threat of fraud amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The warning has come from a raft of charities and voluntary sector bodies, who have come together to produce an advice helpsheet on countering threats such as cybercrime, insider theft and procurement fraud.

This details the increasing risk charities face from criminals due to economic uncertainty and greater use of online communication and administration.

“Fraudsters thrive in crises like the Covid-19 pandemic as well as in the economic difficulties that often accompany them,” states the guidance.

“For charities large and small the unfamiliar operational and financial challenges, the urgent shift to remote working, the roll-out of new communications technologies and the furloughing of staff have together created significant new fraud vulnerabilities which need to be tackled.”

The Charity Commission, National Cyber Security Centre and the Fraud Advisory Panel have produced the guidance.

Also involved is Cancer Research UK, the Charity Finance Group and Small Charities Coalition.

Advice includes reviewing fraud prevention controls and segregating financial duties.

Cyber-security needs to be in place with strong passwords, data backups and software updates regularly performed, the advice adds.

The groups warn that staff and volunteers are coming under increased financial pressure and “may try to take advantage of financial controls weakened by the pandemic response”.

“Because new ways of working have increased the risk of insider fraud you should review and update your staff recruitment and exit procedures to reflect the changes,” the guidance adds.

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