Simi Bains: additional tool against financial crimeThe benefits and power of
information sharing should not be underestimated.

Until recently, networks of
businesses sharing any kind of business or customer information did
not exist. Competition concerns almost always stopped this kind of
information sharing, especially among industry rivals.

Now, more and more businesses are
realising the benefits of sharing information with their industry
peers using secure, closed networks, and without the fear that they
are breaching any competition laws or giving away sensitive
information to their competitors.

Current economic challenges also
play a part in changing the level of information businesses are
willing to share.

The Home Office and the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have begun to take a more favourable
attitude to public and private sector organisations sharing
information to prevent fraud. (Ref: Home Office Code of
Practice on Data Sharing for the Prevention of Fraud October

Businesses unfortunate enough to
have suffered losses due to fraud will have experienced first hand
how a typical fraud can affect multiple businesses, often across
more than one industry.

Leasing businesses know well how a
single fraudulent company can cause millions of pounds worth of
losses. This can potentially affect the whole industry, the
majority of which could have been avoided through an effective
information sharing network.

Dunn & Bradstreet’s Fraud Alert
and Credit Communities service provides its members with a portal
to share information on fraud and general trade experiences, as
well as providing access to alerts on suspicious businesses
generated by a specialist investigation team.

Among the comments made by
individual members are that the service has significantly reduced
their experience of fraud by nearly 80%; provided them with an
additional tool in the fight against financial crime; and been
extremely informative.

Given the challenging economic climate we find ourselves in,
businesses should seriously consider being part of an information
sharing service.