Digital technology has enabled us to access and manage data from virtually anywhere, but it also has made it easier for criminals to get our personal information, and to commit fraud at every level. This fraud can hide inside companies and public organizations.
What is a Forensics?
According to the Homeland Security website, the computer forensic profession includes “investigating, gathering and analyzing digital evidence from any number of electronic devices, such as personal computers, cell phones, tablets, digital cameras, digital media players, flash media, CDs and DVDs.” Often, people who perpetrate fraud try to delete the data or to alter it in such a way that it is rendered irretrievable, but electronic data is difficult to erase. Professionals trained in computer forensics retrieve the data and present it to law enforcement of other entities to assist in the solving and deterring of Internet crime.
What Forensic Accountants Do?
Forensic accounts investigate crimes within financial documents of a company. They step in when an organization has alleged wrong doings or have been accused of a crime with legal ramifications. According to American Institute of CPAs, forensic accountants do not make legal determinations if fraud has occurred, but distinguish fraud from error. They look to see if the it was an intentional error or an unintentional error.
Public Sector Forensic Accounting
The different between public sector forensic accounting and private sector forensic accounting, is the nature of the business being evaluated. The public sector involves a public figures or government organizations. A private sector business included individual companies.
The majority of fraud occurring in the public sector include corruption, issues with billing, asset misappropriation, cash skimming, expense reimbursements, payroll issues and tampering with checks, according to the ACFE.
Public Sector Forensic Accounts are trained to look for these potential fraud issues within organizations and turn them over to legal authorities.
How to Become a Public Sector Forensic Accountant
According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, forensic accountants should hold a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in and accounting field or finance. Forensic Accounts are encouraged to have additional education in criminal justice or law enforcement. It is also encouraged that those interested in forensic accounting obtain the following designations: Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Accountant. Certified Accountants earn a median salary of $104,000.
Related Resource: Types of Auditing Jobs
As public organizations and figures are becoming increasingly more visible, public sector forensic accounting is becoming more widely known. With good job stability and excellent pay, a public sector forensic accountant is a very stable and rewarding field to enter.