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Deterrence messaging

Type of countermeasure

This is a prevention countermeasure. Prevention countermeasures are the most common and cost-effective way to stop fraud. They prevent or limit the size of the fraud risk by reducing the likelihood and consequences of fraud.

decorative  prevention countermeasures


Providing clear statements and communications on entity practices to detect and respond to fraud can discourage fraudulent or corrupt activities. Staff and clients will be less able to rationalise or justify fraudulent or corrupt conduct when informed of the outcomes of fraud.

Why this countermeasure matters

Most people who commit fraud are first-time offenders with no criminal history. The messages we communicate to the public can change a person’s beliefs and perceptions about the risks and perceived benefits of committing fraud.

Statements about detection and response can have a deterrent effect and discourage non-compliance and fraud.

Behavioural research has found that a person’s fear they might get caught offending is a much greater deterrent than their fear of the consequences that would follow. Therefore, the most effective messages to encourage compliance is to communicate that structured processes are in place, discrepancies will be discovered and deliberate offenders will be caught.

How you might apply this countermeasure

Some ways to implement this countermeasure include:

  • making statements that communicate fraud is an offence
  • making statements that communicate the entity is actively detecting fraud and taking action against fraudsters
  • making statements that communicate most people perform a desired behaviour (e.g. do not defraud, behave honestly, report fraud etc.)
  • making statements that influence emotions and appeal to moral identity (e.g. fraud is not a victimless crime, fraud impacts the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community etc.)
  • media releases about the action taken against fraudsters.

How to check if your countermeasures are effective

Here are some ways to measure the effectiveness of this type of countermeasure:

  • analyse data to identify changes to behaviour before and after communications have been made
  • review when deterrence messages are delivered. Do they prompt people when they are likely to be most receptive? For example:
    • when a claim is initiated,
    • when approval is sought, or
    • for any other notifiable events and changes that impact on ongoing eligibility.
  • confirm deterrence messages are obvious and attract attention
  • review the design of forms. Are deterrence messages placed up-front in a claim or application form?
  • review the language of deterrence messages. Presenting information using plain and direct language increases response rates. Also, simple and binary questions make it more difficult for a person to rationalise providing false or misleading information

Related countermeasures

Develop clear instructions and guidance for activities and processes, such as instructions for collecting the right information to verify eligibility or entitlements, procedures to help staff apply consistent and correct processes and guidance to help staff make correct and ethical decisions.

Collaborate with strategic partners such as other government entities, committees, working groups and taskforces. This allows you to share capability, information and intelligence and to prevent and disrupt fraud.

Help and support to customers, staff and third parties to help them follow correct processes and encourage them to comply with rules and processes and meet expectations.

Publish information on your entity’s decision-making processes, decisions made, successful tenderers or grantees, incidents and breaches.

Related Fraudster Personas

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