Avoiding crime and fraud in international trade

Installing best-practice safety procedures against business crime


Unfortunately, businesses sometimes face risk of crime and fraud from their own staff. Some specialist industries in international trade - such as the aviation industry - require staff to be vetted.

Positive vetting is increasingly common and is a valuable safeguard against attacks from within your business. You should:

  • check the identity and take up references of all new employees
  • know your staff well enough to be able to spot financial pressures or alcohol and drug problems
  • check staff frequently in purchasing and accounting departments - and supply-chain processes - where theft is most common

Read more about monitoring and security of staff.

Because of the information restrictions arising from the Data Protection Act, the police can't provide information concerning the criminal background of individuals. Ask your prospective employees to provide this information themselves.

Installing safety processes in your business is important to deter criminals. You should:

  • create a best-practice code of ethics for staff and an IT Security policy and treat employees fairly
  • use logical access controls - ie limit your employees' access to information and restricting access to the level needed for each job
  • introduce business continuity plans and risk assessments for your IT
    and treat employees fairly
  • regularly review internal financial and stock control systems
  • ensure your systems cannot be bypassed
  • conduct random audits
  • review your vulnerability to fraud and theft every six months
  • keep your IT secure
  • ensure that there is a clear separation of duties between staff involved in security, sensitive and financial work, eg to prevent one member of staff undertaking all the steps necessary to make a payment without supervision or authorisation

For organisations working in, or relying on, the logistics industry, certification to the international ISO/PAS 28000:2005 supply-chain management standard minimises the risk of security incidents during the delivery of goods and supplies. Read more about how to safeguard against crime in your supply chain.

It's important to work with reputable shippers. For air cargo, it's recommended that you work with registered air shippers or consignors.

It's also important to use reliable freight forwarders. Check if your UK freight forwarder is registered with British International Freight Association.

When shipping internationally, make sure that your foreign freight forwarder is a member of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA), the world-wide equivalent of BIFA. Read more about using brokers and forwarders.

Some high-risk industries, such as banking, chemicals, excise trading, and freight transports, must comply with specific regulations and use approved premises. Contact your trade association for help.