Charities unprepared for cyber crime threat, says survey

The Charity Fraud Awareness Week report asked 3,300 charities for their views on fraud and suggests ways they can better protect themselves from criminals.

Joe Lepper | 22nd Oct 19
cover of the cyber crime report from charity fraud awareness week

Charities need to be improve their protection against fraud, including cyber crime, according to a survey published to  promote Charity Fraud Awareness Week.

The week of campaigning (October 21-25) aims to make charities more aware of the threat of criminals, in particular those using technology to prey on victims.

To coincide with the campaign, the Charity Commission for England and Wales and Fraud Advisory Panel have published the results of a survey of more than 3,000 charities into fraud awareness, resilience and cyber security.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) believe fraud is a major risk to the sector, according to the survey report, called Preventing Charity FraudInsights+Action.

But more than a third believe their organisation will not be hit by the most common types of fraud, such as cyber attacks and insider fraud, and less than nine per cent have a fraud awareness training programme in place.

Largest charity fraud survey

The report’s survey is believed to be the largest ever analysis of fraud among UK charities.

“The results are generally encouraging, with some improvements made over the last 10 years,” states the report.

“However, significant fraud threats and vulnerabilities persist, and many charities are yet to adopt the good practice required to sufficiently protect themselves from fraud.”

It adds: “Charities in England and Wales spend nearly £80bn every year – a tempting target for fraudsters. Although there is no universally accepted estimate of the scale of charity fraud, research suggests the cost to the sector is likely to be hundreds of millions, potentially billions, of pounds each year.”

Advice being given by the Charity Commission includes introducing basic financial controls, such as having at least two signatories for banking.

Also the regulator is encouraging all staff, volunteers and trustees to speak out when they see something they feel uncomfortable about that could be fraudulent.

A Charity Fraud Awareness Hub has been made available for the campaign, which focuses on different elements of fraud each week. Cyber crime is the focus of this Wednesday’s campaign activity.