Small firms are starting to view internal fraud as more of a threat to their businesses than burglary, a survey by accountancy firm MacIntyre Hudson has revealed.
But despite this perceived threat, firms are not putting enough resources into white-collar crime to carry out checks into both new and long-serving staff, according to the survey.
Of 200 UK small-business owner-managers questioned, 38 per cent see fraud as the single biggest threat, compared with 36 per cent citing burglary. Only 39 per cent admitted checking for irregularities by undertaking on-the-spot tests, while just 26 per cent operate a 'double-signed cheque' policy.
"A lot of SMEs say they don't have time to carry out the checks, but it is something they should invest in," said Howard Lewis, partner at MacIntyre Hudson.
"They wouldn't leave their premises unlocked, and making sure staff are following the rules is just as important," he said.
Eddie Pacey, control services manager at Bell Microproducts Europe, agreed it is a growing problem, especially in the channel. "A lot of companies don't take it as seriously as they should. Fraud ranges from stealing the odd pencil right up to company cheque forging," he said.
"I would say a lot of companies in our sector don't have the right steps in place and are leaving their doors open to fraud. I have seen firms collapse as a result of internal fraud."
Chris Williams, senior ChannelFocus analyst at credit agency Graydon, said: "Most people take steps to prevent burglary, but less do with fraud.
"Just as they use security processes, SMEs must take defined anti-fraud measures beginning with assigning responsibility and educating staff in fraud detection and prevention."
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