Fraud is big business here in the UK; in 2016, there were an estimated 3.6 million cases of fraud, and public organisations are a key target. Financial pressures, such as those which stemmed from the financial crisis, increase motivation and opportunity to commit fraud, and the costs are huge – since 2008, fraud has cost the UK economy £125 billion.
Academy trusts are required by law to be aware of the risk of fraud, theft or irregularities and address the risk by putting in proportionate controls. With budgets tighter than ever, ensuring that your school is not falling victim to fraud is not only your responsibility, it will guarantee that no funds are being misappropriated.
We take a closer look at the problem of fraud in schools and demonstrate how asset management software can help prevent such crimes from occurring.
What types of fraud are affecting schools?
Online fraud is one of the most damaging types of fraud modern schools are facing, and the problem stems back to a lack of staff training. If you’re not aware of the latest scams, it can be all too easy to open a phishing email which contains a link to a fake website designed to steal personal details or a virus-filled attachment masquerading as an invoice.
The Department for Education (DfE) recently warned schools about a ransomware scam which involved fraudsters cold calling schools and pretending to be from the DfE. They ask for the email address and/or phone number of the head teacher or financial administrator so that they can send ransomware files to their device. This type of virus is incredibly damaging, as it encrypts films and demands up to £8,000 to recover them – if the ransom isn’t paid they could be lost forever.
It is estimated that online crime in the UK costs £10.9 billion every year, but it’s not the only form of fraud schools need to be aware of.
Asset misappropriation is by far the most commonly reported type of fraud in the public sector, as it accounts for 69 per cent of reports. This type of fraud occurs when those who are entrusted with an organisation’s assets steal from it.
How can school asset management prevent fraud?
Prevention is better than cure, so even if your trust or school has never had problems with fraud before, you should be putting measures in place to ensure it never will. If you don’t know what assets the school has, where they are, what condition they are in, etc. you also have no idea if any assets are being taken.
The most vulnerable assets include tablets, laptops and anything that is mobile and small. Not only are such assets expensive to replace, they could contain sensitive information which fraudsters could exploit, costing the school even more in the long run. Remember that it’s not just students and staff that potentially have access to most areas of the school – contractors and others external visitors could also take assets which are left lying around.
An annual audit isn’t going to cut it, as any missing items will be noticed when it’s far too late. A school asset management system will ensure your establishment knows where everything is at all times. With Parago’s school inventory management and academy asset management software, keeping an inventory up to date is easy. IT staff and contractors can update it whilst carrying out their daily duties using the mobile app, so it becomes part of their job, as it takes no time at all to do and means an annual audit is not necessary.
Fraud is more likely to occur if only one or two people are put in charge of asset management at a school or academy, as it is easier to hide false documents and invoices. However, with our asset management software solutions, all relevant members of staff can be given access and training on how to use it. This means it is more difficult for a fraudster to slip anything under the radar.
School asset management software also ensures all sensitive and financial documents are tracked with ease. It’s simple enough to see previous invoices, so staff can check for any irregularities. Our school asset management system even links to account solutions, such as PS Financials, saving you time and ensuring all the information you need is in one place.
Fraud is a serious problem that can affect any school or trust, so if you’d like to know more about how our asset management software can help save you stress, time and money, get in touch with us today.
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