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Design economic recovery measures that are more resistant to fraud

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After helping Australians through emergencies and disasters, such as the Global Financial Crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian Government entities will often look to implement new measures to support economic recovery efforts.

However, until recovery efforts start taking effect, the economic impacts of emergencies and disasters will continue to create financial pressure for Australians and lead to an environment that is conducive to fraud.

Our Economic Recovery Counter Fraud Toolkit provides practical advice on how to identify common fraud threats and countermeasures to safeguard new policies and spending measures against fraud.

Principles to follow when designing economic recovery measures

Australian Government entities should apply the following principles when designing and implementing economic recovery measures:

  • There is always going to be fraud as there is always going to be individuals who act dishonestly, especially when motivated by money.
  • Finding fraud is a good thing as you need to find fraud in order to fight it.
  • There is no one solution as it requires a holistic approach that involves detecting, preventing and responding to fraud.
  • Fraud is ever changing as fraud schemes evolve quickly and that means we also have to evolve quickly.
  • Prevention is the most effective way to address fraud as it reduces loss and reputational damage but also requires fewer resources.

Important steps when designing and rapidly delivering relief and recovery measures

Identify and assess fraud risks

Understand what the risks are. When officials have a clear and specific understanding of the fraud risks, they can make better decisions about their risk tolerance or make necessary adjustments to processes, policy and program design.

Learn about conducting a fraud risk assessment.

Think like a fraudster

When people commit fraud, they take on one or more 'personas'. By exploring these personas and how they may target economic recovery measures, officials can better understand how measures might be vulnerable to fraud. They can also better counter or reduce the scale and impact of fraud.

Learn about the different types of fraudsters.

Test your countermeasures and assumptions

Pressure testing is a proactive and proven way of eliminating your blind spots. It helps officials find vulnerabilities and challenge assumptions about how fraud is managed within government programs. When officials know where their programs are vulnerable, they are better informed to prevent fraud or uncover where they are being exploited.

Learn about pressure testing countermeasures to see if they are effective.

Introduce countermeasures

Learn about different countermeasures.

Introduce countermeasures

Establish governance, accountability and oversight of processes by using delegations and requiring committees and project boards to oversee critical decisions and risk. Good governance, accountability and oversight increases transparency and reduces the opportunity for fraud.

Clear eligibility requirements and only approve requests or claims that meet the criteria. This can include internal requests for staff access to systems or information.

Analyse data to improve processes and controls, increase payment accuracy and find and prevent non-compliance, fraud and corruption.

Confirm the identity or attribute of the individual. Evidence of identity should be collected and verified using policies, rules, processes and systems to make sure only known, authorised identities can gain access to information stored in networks and systems. This control is supported by the National Identity Proofing Guidelines and the Trusted Digital Identity Framework.

Match data with the authoritative source and verify relevant details or supporting evidence. Services such as the Identity Matching Service can be used to verify identity credentials back to the authoritative source when the information is an Australian or state and territory government issued identity credential. This countermeasure is supported by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's Guidelines on data matching in Australian government administration.

Verify any requests or claim information you receive with an independent and credible source.

Set up system prompts and alerts to warn users when information is inconsistent or irregular, which either requires acceptance or denies further actions.

Fraud detection software programs automatically analyse data to detect what is different from what is standard, normal or expected and may indicate fraud or corruption.

Other resources

This toolkit has been developed to help Australian Government entities when designing and delivering economic recovery measures. It provides an overview of common fraud methods to guard against and countermeasures to deploy to reduce the risk of fraud.

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