Fraud can be one of the most significant consequences of failure to exercise skepticism.

It can often be overlooked in mitigating the risk of fraud and misconduct, which illustrates why it is important that companies and their stakeholders should recognize the significance of and challenges associated with exercising an appropriate level of skepticism.

The word skepticism comes from the Greek word skeptikos, which means “inquiring” or “reflective.” Simply put, skepticism is a questioning mindset, and it requires an understanding that even the best organizations can be susceptible to fraud.

It is important to note that skepticism is not an end in itself and is not meant to encourage a hostile atmosphere or micro-management. Management, audit committees, and internal auditors, at a minimum, should take a “trust but verify” approach with systems, methods, and communications rather than accept critical information at face value.

Embracing skepticism throughout the financial reporting supply chain increases not only the likelihood that fraud will be detected but also the perception that fraud will be detected, which reduces the risk that fraud will be attempted.

The Anti-Fraud Collaboration provides resources that hone the skill of skepticism in the financial reporting chain and that explore the benefits of embracing a skeptical mindset.

See below for resources on skepticism:

Skepticism Series to Combat Fraud: Episode 1, Introduction

Skepticism Series to Combat Fraud: Episode 1, Introduction

This lively introduction to the Skepticism Webinar Series guides auditors, audit committee members, and executives in how to exercise skepticism effectively in their respective roles. Looking through a critical lens is both necessary and encouraged in order to best...

Kendallville Bank Case Study

Kendallville Bank Case Study

The Kendallville Bank Case Study explores potential material fraud at a fictitious regional bank. With a fact pattern revolving around the questionable accounting decisions of a star executive, this hypothetical scenario is designed to foster a greater understanding...