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BerganKDV Works With Far Reach to Build Custom Fraud Reporting Tip Line

Far Reach Bergan Tip Line

As a large professional services firm, BerganKDV is always looking for innovative solutions to businesses’ problems. Recently, they worked with Far Reach to build and launch a fraud tip line and online portal that helps organizations collect tips in a way that’s completely anonymous and secure for tipsters. 

PlainSight is a custom software application that allows organizations to gather tips from those likely to see fraud first: employees, vendors, contractors, and customers. Anyone with a tip about the organization can report it in PlainSight using the organization’s unique ID.

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“Most fraud is discovered because someone in the organization saw something and said something,” said Michael Bösl, manager of forensic and data services at BerganKDV and client product owner (PO) on the PlainSight project. “We wanted to provide a platform for that.”

Fraud reporting is done through a mix of online submissions, phone hotlines, and email. PlainSight offers a secure option for employees to anonymously report tips where they spend most of their days: online.

custom software fraud tipline

In its 2022 Occupational Fraud report, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) found that 42% of fraud reports come through tip lines. Most come via employees, customers, and vendors. 

When tip lines are in place, fraud is found faster. Without a tip line, the average time for law enforcement to uncover fraud is 18 months. That goes down to just 12 months when a tip hotline is in place, and the amount lost to fraud is cut approximately in half.

organizational fraud sources
Source: Association of Certified Fraud Examiners

Other than internal monitoring, account reconciliation, and management review, tip lines offer the fastest detection and lowest loss to fraud. 

BerganKDV saw an opportunity to offer employers (and therefore their best sources for fraud detection) a system that is effective, easy to deploy, and affordable: PlainSight. The firm’s mission in launching PlainSight is to help clients manage and mitigate risk and educate them on how to identify and report fraud.

Maintaining Anonymity Online

When providing a fraud tip, people often need anonymity to feel comfortable coming forward. While there are whistleblower laws in place, it can still be stigmatizing to report fraud. For some situations, reporting to HR or a supervisor may not be comfortable—especially if those individuals may be involved or complicit. Tipsters can experience blowback and even negative career consequences. 

BerganKDV wanted to make sure PlainSight is completely anonymous and therefore doesn’t collect any information about the individual submitting a tip. “We want to help people come forward, and they need to feel comfortable in their anonymity to do so,” said Bösl.

To maintain anonymity, PlainSight provides an organization code for each employer, which is posted and shared with employees, vendors, customers, and others. Tips are submitted along with this code and can include basic information about what might be going on, evidence of the fraud, and any other valuable information. The tipster can choose who in the fraud management chain of command sees the tip—again, to help with concerns about reporting fraud to someone who might be involved.

custom software fraud anonymous tip code

With no email address, phone number, or other identifying information, the tipster is given a tip code and asked to create a passphrase that only they will know to access information about their tips after submission. By using the unique tip code and passphrase in PlainSight, an individual can see if the organization's fraud team has followed up, asked questions, or resolved the reported issue. 

Using unique tip codes, assigned by the system, helps individuals feel sure their email address or other identifying information isn’t tied to the tip while also allowing them to follow up and continue a conversation about the tip.

custom software tipline management portal

Phone It In

In addition to the custom web application, PlainSight offers a phone tipline. Individuals can report tips via their preferred method, while all tips are collected in one management area for organizations. For phone tips, individuals use the same organization code as they would with web submissions. 

As with web submissions, phone tips are anonymous. The organization can access transcripts from the calls—as well as details about time submitted—but are not able to see a phone number or hear a voice tied to the tip. 

A phone option was important for BerganKDV because many tiplines are through the phone and they wanted to provide familiar options. 

Managing Tips

Organizations that use PlainSight get a tip management platform to help collect and file tips as they come in. Approved organizational users can see submitted tips, add comments, view evidence, ask and reply to questions, and change the status of the tip. 

Admins at each organization have to use two-factor authentication to login, and any tip submitted can be marked to not send to any admin individual. Again, this is to protect tips and tipsters from admin-level employees who might be involved in something related to the tip. Employees can feel more comfortable reporting fraud tips about those in management positions.

In the portal, there’s a full, audited history of tips, follow-ups, and if or how they were resolved or escalated. Management can see tips that relate to the same cases, and if auditors come in, there’s a thorough history of tips and how they were managed. 

If a tip comes in that is deemed invalid, management can add a comment about why. This small process helps keep faith in the system by confirming with tipsters that their submission was indeed reviewed. 

Who’s Using It

Organizations can sign up for PlainSight with BerganKDV to get their organization code and start collecting and managing tips. BerganKDV will be using the system itself, and has clients onboarding consistently.

Publicly owned companies have requirements for fraud reporting mechanisms. PlainSight helps them meet that requirement by giving individuals an anonymous place to submit tips. Plus, these organizations can hear about potential fraud directly and early on instead of waiting for a call from the SEC. Organizations can control the fraud reporting process, manage communications around potential fraud, and proactively get in front of any issues that arise. 

Since PlainSight is set up as a subscription software as a service (SaaS) platform, the ROI is clear, both for customers and for BerganKDV. Companies that sign on to use PlainSight can connect the dots on fraud resolution time and costs and evaluate them against the software’s subscription costs. And BerganKDV can compare development and maintenance costs directly with subscription revenue. 

Why Far Reach Was the Right Fit

BerganKDV evaluated the option of developing their new fraud reporting system internally, but they determined that they didn’t have the resources or capacity to do so, so they looked at outsourcing development for this project. They had worked with Far Reach on previous projects, so it was an obvious choice to talk with our team about the PlainSight project. 

"We’ve worked with Far Reach before, and we knew from that experience and talking to others that they offer good product quality and service,” said Bösl. “The project went well. It stayed on budget, and they kept us updated about any changes to scope and timeline."

BerganKDV knew their budget range because they understood their ROI via the subscription model mentioned above. They budgeted for initial development, and our team let them know what we thought could be accomplished within that range. They also have a budget for ongoing costs like maintenance and product enhancements. They came in with a realistic budget and understood the value of quality, reliable development. 

Overall, the BerganKDV team liked the process of working with Far Reach. “We really liked their process—setting things up in sprints and stories,” said Bösl. “We liked agile/scrum so much that we might implement some of the framework for ourselves.”

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What’s Next?

The PlainSight team already has future enhancements in mind. They want to make the system more self-service for organizations signing up and onboarding users. Like most projects, there’s a long wish list of future features. 

“We want to keep making it better,” Bösl said. “We know we’ll do annual updates and upgrades based on our existing to-do list and what we learn as organizations use the portal.”

If you see an opportunity to help businesses or individuals with custom software, let’s talk.