The importance of providing a digital whistleblowing channel for companies
The whistleblowing system is the most effective fraud detection tool, according to various studies. However, having a whistleblowing traditional hotline is not enough. For the whistleblowing system to work effectively, there are several requirements that must be met. One critical requirement is the availability of a safe and confidential reporting channel that can be accessed easily.
In general, reporting channels are available in the forms of telephone, email, website-based forms, letters, facsimiles, and others. Four years ago, the telephone became the most widely used reporting channel. Based on Report to the Nations 2018, as many as 42% of complaints were received via telephone, 26% via email, and 23% via website-based forms.
A change in the trend
Recently, there has been a shift in the trend, with digital channels, including e-mail and web-based forms, topping the list of channels receiving the most number of reports. According to the Report to the Nations 2020, email and website-based forms received as much as 33% and 32% of the total number of reports, respectively.
This trend accelerated in 2022—email is the most used channel, followed by web-based forms and telephone.
In addition to the massive era of digitalization, the conditions of the pandemic that forced people to undertake almost all of their activities digitally also significantly contributed to this trend.
Additionally, in general, digital reporting channels offer a few advantages over the traditional ones, such as better accessibility and confidentiality.
The ease and anonymity of reporting via the web
The benefit of accessibility implies that digital channels may be accessed from anywhere and at any time, as long as there is an internet connection. Meanwhile, confidentiality refers to the situation wherein a whistleblower may choose whether or not to divulge personal information.
This is not the case if the report is made via telephone. When reporting via phone, whistleblowers are normally required to provide a contact number to the receiver of the report in case follow-ups are required during the investigation. This raises the likelihood of identifying the whistleblower.
Digital channels in the form of emails provide easy access for reporting. Whistleblowers’ email addresses can also be concealed to maintain anonymity.
Even with these extensive steps to ensure anonymity, email is still vulnerable to breaches of confidentiality due to the lack of encryption. Unauthorized individuals may read the emails exchanged, edit them, or even trace the identities of the whistleblowers.
As a result, businesses should explore better alternatives for whistleblowers and provide more secure channels, such as a website form. The channel itself, in addition to being provided by an impartial and trustworthy party, allows whistleblowers to submit reports and evidence of offenses without having to provide information that may lead to identification.
When making reports via website form, whistleblowers will receive a password to access case management—a dashboard where whistleblowers can securely monitor how the cases they report are handled and communicate with the party receiving the report through two-way communication, which is critical during investigations.
As we all know, accessibility and confidentiality are often the two main factors preventing individuals from reporting suspected violations. Hence, the benefits provided by website forms may be a solution that encourages individuals to get more involved in anti-fraud activities.
Integrity Asia, as a company that has more than two decades of practice working in the compliance field, has extensive experience in providing whistleblowing services for clients from various business backgrounds.
Through the Canary Whistleblowing System, Integrity provides a combination of multiple reporting channels centralized on the website application, thereby increasing our clients’ accessibility to reports, while still ensuring the anonymity of the reporter. To get more information about the Canary Whistleblowing System, please feel free to contact us.