Cifas for the Public Sector
Fraud and the Public Sector
Fraud and financial crime can have devastating consequences in any sector, but none more so than the public sector. From social care to security, healthcare to housing – the UK’s public institutions are integral to the lives and welfare of individuals and businesses. The public sector holds and operates a vast wealth of personal data, sensitive information, and significant funds and assets, just waiting to be unlocked. As a result, the public sector is a constant target as criminals – both external and internal – attempt to access it in any way they can.
Every year, the public sector is targeted by thousands of actual and attempted instances of cyber, fraud and financial crime, including cyber attacks; data breaches; theft of funds, assets or information; invoice fraud; service user fraud; bribery and corruption, and more.
Download our Brochure - Fighting Fraud in the Public Sector
How Cifas helps the public sector fight fraud
We are the UK’s fraud prevention community. Over 700 members from across the public, private, and voluntary sectors use Cifas to share data, intelligence and learning to detect and prevent fraud and financial crime – ranging from large high street banks, telcos, and insurers, to major government departments, law enforcement bodies, and local authorities. When you use Cifas to protect the public sector from fraud and financial crime, you also protect the UK, its citizens and its economy. We are a long-term trusted partner and collaborator with Government and law enforcement – our CEO, Mike Haley, sits on the Joint Fraud Taskforce, and our Public Sector and Learning Director, Rachael Tiffen, sits on the DWP Fraud Prevention Board. Our data and intelligence, and the secure systems we use, are trusted and used by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and the National Crime Agency to support their investigations and operations into a wide range of criminality, including serious and organised crime
Cifas works with the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) in multiple ways:
- Supporting the drafting of the new Government Counter Fraud Profession (GCFP) Prevention Standard
- Assisting with the GCFP Culture Standard
- Acting as the Trailblazer for the forthcoming GCFP Counter Fraud Apprenticeship
- Training the PSFA and the National Crime Agency (NCA) through the Cifas Fraud and Cyber Academy
- Acting as the Pro Bono Secretariat for the Fighting Fraud and Corruption Locally Initiative, the official strategy for local government
Our members collectively save over £1.3 billion every year in prevented losses
As a specified anti-fraud organisation under the terms of section 68 Serious Crime Act 2007, public authorities have the legal power to share information with Cifas for purposes of fraud prevention
How the Public Sector uses our Data
Cifas holds the National Fraud Database (NFD), which is the UK’s largest database of high grade fraud risk data; as well as and the Insider Threat Database (ITD), which is the only database to record instances of applicant and employee-related dishonest conduct against organisations. Public sector organisations who contribute to our data include government departments, public bodies, local authorities and law enforcement. Because fraudsters don’t work in silos, neither do we – so you’ll also access data and information from hundreds of private sector organisations, including banking and finance; loans and credit; insurance; telecommunications; retail, and many more.
As a public sector member of Cifas, you can access our data 24/7 through our secure, easy-to-access Portal to protect against threats such as:
- Income evasion and service user fraud - Search against hundreds of thousands of records to help detect and prevent fraudulent conduct, including those related to key areas such as blue badge, adult social care, tenancy or pensions
- Grant, procurement and commercial fraud - Check suppliers and other third parties who you hire, work or engage with
- Internal fraud and corruption - Vet job applicants before and during recruitment and onboarding, and monitor staff throughout their employment and on exit
Local Authority Case Study
Cifas offered local authorities access to the Cifas National Fraud Database between April-August 2020 to batch search their applicants for Covid-19 grants during the pandemic.
A total of 31 local authorities took part in this scheme, and Cifas reviewed any matches generated from the searches against the National Fraud Database before returning them to the authorities to assess whether they indicated a heightened risk of fraud in the application for the Covid-19 related grant.
If applicable, Cifas then provided the details of the matches to the authority so that they could make an informed decision in line with their own risk appetite and due diligence.
Lambeth Council Testimonial
‘Lambeth Council joined Cifas in April 2019 on a pilot exercise with 12 other local authorities. The initial membership was for the National Fraud Database (NFD) only, with the Insider Threat Database (ITD) membership commencing from September 2020 when the local authorities involved in the pilot were accepted for full Cifas membership. The ITD was an area of Cifas where we felt local authorities would really benefit, so once full membership was offered, we started the process of arranging the use of ITD for Lambeth. Making the necessary arrangements took several months, but once this was in place, Lambeth started using ITD to search those candidates accepted for employment as part of the vetting process. We now use Cifas for vetting both agency and staff appointments at the Council, with searches taking place after an offer of employment has been made; this process commenced in late March 2021. As of January 2024, Lambeth has refused employment to 36 candidates who had been accepted for posts before they were identified on Cifas’ NFD, having being filed by other members primarily for misuse of facility, provision of false information or retaining a wrongful credit. Lambeth now operates a shared service, managing the counter fraud team for Croydon. When the service was set up in January 2023 we encouraged Croydon to use ITD in recruitment for all agency and staff appointments. In total 12 candidates have been refused employment with Croydon in the current financial year.’
How the Public Sector uses our Intelligence
Our fraud and financial crime intelligence is drawn from expert analysis of the data we hold, as well as information supplied by our member organisations and national bodies such as law enforcement, the Home Office, Royal Mail and the GRO. As a public sector member, you have access to an extensive range of unique intelligence that only Cifas can provide, delivered 24/7 through our secure and easy-to-access online Portal
- Develop strategies - Regular reports on current and predicted threats and trends facing the public sector, as well as the wider UK threat landscape
- Stay ahead of the threat - Proactive alerts for immediate threats and potential scams facing your organisation and your service users
- Build relationships - Member-only intelligence-sharing networking forums such as the Organised Fraud and Intelligence Group, the Local Authority Business Sector Working Party, and the Cifas Member Forum
- Stay informed - Exclusive webinars on the broader fraud and financial crime threat landscape as well as specific sessions targeted at essential public sector delivery areas practice with the wider industry
‘We have found Cifas to be a crucial resource to enable thorough and effective due diligence for the grant and discretionary payment work that we have been given from the central government… ‘it’s allowed us to identify necessary follow up checks and precautions to identify and prevent fraudulent applications from being processed.’
Oxford City Council
How the Public Sector uses our Learning
All our data and intelligence is used to inform and design qualifications, courses and training in a wide range of counter fraud and financial crime topics. We offer learning for all of your organisation, from essential fraud and scam awareness training for entry level and non-fraud workers, to specialist skills for counter fraud professionals. Our qualifications are recognised by Ofqual and accredited by SFJ Awards, and developed by Cifas experts and leading academics. Our learning provides your entire workforce with the right knowledge, at the right level, at the right time – making them an essential component of your first line of defence against fraud. Programmes are flexible for todays fluid workplaces, with self-study, online and virtual classroom options available at exclusive member rates.
As a public sector member, you can take advantage of:
- The Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist (ACFS) - Our provision of the ACFS qualification through our award-winning Academy, which is accredited by the Counter Fraud Professional Awards Board (CFPAB) and has been approved by Northumbria University
- Discounted learning opportunites - Member-only discounted fees for all learning, including a 50% discount on our award-winning digital learning solution, Apollo
- Exclusive content - Exclusive webinars and masterclasses on ‘hot topics’ such as the latest government legislation, led by experts
- Bespoke training - The opportunity to work with us to develop bespoke training designed to meet the specific learning needs of the public sector
‘A hugely in-depth and detailed course that provided much insight into not just fraud investigations but also an unexpected insight into English Law, interview techniques and Court procedures.’
Mark Carter, Academy learner
‘I have worked in Fraud Investigation for about 14 years for a Local Authority but coming on this [Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist] course reinforced some of my practices, corrected some of my practices and completely changed others. My confidence level is almost stratospheric.’
Learner feedback, ACFS programme
Secure systems trusted by government
As the data controller of the National Fraud Database and the Insider Threat Database, Cifas is responsible for compliance with data protection legislation.
Two of the main ways we achieve this are through the Fair Processing Notice that all members are required to make available, which informs individuals about how their personal data will be shared, and through having clear “principles of use” published in our Handbooks.
Cifas is a specified anti-fraud organisation under the terms of section 68 Serious Crime Act 2007, which provides public authorities with the legal power to share information with Cifas for fraud prevention. Cifas is certified to ISO/IEC 27001:2013, the international standard for operating an information security management system, and to Cyber Essentials, the online security scheme run by the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre.
Our databases are hosted and managed in the Microsoft Azure UK cloud, which is itself certified to ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and many other international security standards.
Cifas commissions regular penetration testing of all systems by independent experts approved under the CREST scheme.
How can you use Cifas?
Batch search daily, weekly or as regularly as you want on blue badges, adult social care, insurance or pensions.
- Search before you pay on grants – upload in the morning and get results during the day.
- Check your suppliers and other third parties you may engage with.
- Check your staff or contractors at application stage or regularly throughout their employment.
“Going forward we would like to continue our membership of Cifas and think this would be more beneficial if all, or a significant number of local authorities were members. This would provide invaluable information in relation to issues relating to various frauds, including tenancy, social care and blue badge. We have signed up for a trial of the ITD and feel this would potentially be more beneficial to councils, particularly if there was wide coverage of local authorities, as this would provide invaluable assistance in our recruitment processes.”
Cifas Fraud and Cyber Academy is the home of accredited education and trusted training. We enable organisations to develop the skilled and expert workforce they need to fight fraud and empower individuals to build a recognised and tailored career path in fraud prevention and investigation.
We work in collaboration with respected academic institutions and industry organisations to develop and deliver our regulated qualifications. Our trusted training is delivered by established industry experts in their field, who work with a range of national and international organisations to design and deliver bespoke training for teams – from half day introductory courses to tailored certifications.
The Cifas Accredited Counter Fraud Specialist programme is designed to meet the requirements of the twenty-first century investigator in the public sector.”
Rachael Tiffen, Director of Public Sector and Learning
Apollo is our digital learning environment that delivers universal training to your entire organisation, making them your first line of defence against fraud. A shining meta city complex, where gripping narratives and immersive interactivity help your people understand and recognise the fraud key threats they face in their personal and working lives.