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What Is a Whistleblower Hotline?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Whistleblower hotlines are special audio communication programs that allow individuals to report illegal activities without requiring callers to reveal their identities. Typically, the hotline takes the form of a dedicated telephone number that can be called to report everything from embezzlement, insider trading or other types of suspected fraud. The idea behind the whistleblower hotline is to provide a means for concerned citizens to alert authorities to suspected economic fraud without placing themselves in any type of danger.

A traditional whistleblower hotline is structured with a telephone number that can be used to attack authorities or even watchdog groups within specific industries when there is suspicion of some type of fraudulent activity taking place. There are also examples of corporations that choose to establish this type of hotline for internal use, making it possible for people within the organization to report suspicious behavior without being in fear of losing their jobs. When a tip is received from a whistleblower, the information is investigated, making it possible to determine if there is in fact any type of fraudulent activity taking place. If something illegal is detected, the information along with supporting evidence provided via the whistleblower hotline can be tendered to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

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Along with the use of traditional telephone communications as the basis for contacting a whistleblower hotline, there is also the option of incorporating the use of email transmissions into the process. Individuals who believe there is reason to suspect that some sort of fraud is taking place can set up an anonymous email account, then use the account to send an email to the address provided by the hotline that outlines the suspected activity. An alternative is a web site that allows messages to be typed in and forwarded to the email address without requiring the sender to provide any type of identification. Some hotline structures even allow for the receipt of snail mail as an option for people who fear being identified due to traces placed on telephone calls or online communications.

While a municipality or business can set up a whistleblower hotline that is managed internally, it is also possible to outsource this function to a third party. In some cases this may be preferable, since individuals using the hotline may perceive the presence of the third party as another layer of protection from possibly being identified. Companies providing whistleblower hotline services typically offer the option of a toll free telephone number, an email address, and even web sites that are configured to not collect data that could identify the individual initiating the contact.

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