Do you have a tip hotline? Here are reasons to consider implementing one

Nov 2, 2022

Categorized in: Center for Government InnovationLocal governments


You've probably heard the phrase “If you see something, say something.” It was coined years ago to encourage people to speak up and report suspicious activity. But what happens when your own community members, vendors and employees see something in your organization? Oftentimes, if they don't have an easy way to report what they've seen, they stay quiet.

A tip hotline offers an anonymous way for people to report concerns via phone, mail or internet about suspected fraud, waste or abuse, policy or law violations, and questionable accounting practices. And they work, especially when it comes to reporting fraud.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' (ACFE) 2022 Report to the Nations, organizations with tip hotlines detect fraud more quickly and have lower losses than organizations without them. In fact, according to the report, a hotline shortens the detection timeframe from 18 months to 12 months and saves, on average, $100,000 per fraud!

Hotlines are effective, too. ACFE reports that tips are the most common fraud-detection method by a significant margin—42 percent in the 2022 report—with more than half coming from employees and another 18 percent from customers.

Hotlines may not cost as much as you think. We suggest you make some inquiries before you assume the cost will be too high. Some governments contract with a third party to provide this service for a nominal fee.

Once you've implemented a hotline, it's important to tell your employees about it. ACFE statistics also show that having a training program improves your chances of receiving tips from employees and detecting more fraud cases.

If you are interested in starting a hotline, you can find additional help and information in SAO's resource Making it Easy to Report Concerns.

How to reach us for more assistance

Remember, SAO can help. If you have technical questions, submit them using our HelpDesk in the client portal.

If you would like to discuss tip hotlines, or other fraud topics, reach out to us at