Employees struggling to cope with Christmas may be tempted to dip a hand in the till, accountants Grant Thornton have warned.
And the firm has cautioned businesses across all sectors they are far more at risk from fraud committed by their own employees than they are from anywhere else.
It notes that unscrupulous employees who may already be stealing from a company to fund a lifestyle that their salary alone cannot support may well increase the size of the fraud they are committing in advance of the festive period.
Paul Bennett, senior manager in the forensic and investigation services department, said: "Business managers should be aware of the fraud warning signs, a combination of which may indicate a risk that employees are taking home more than their monthly salary. Any such risk areas should, of course, be investigated further."
Careful scrutiny of prospective employees had never been more important especially as a recent survey found that eight out of ten CVs contained lies.
Confirming written references by telephoning former employees and checking qualifications and gaps in employment history were crucial.
Mr Bennett continued: "The old adage 'prevention is better than cure' is true. One of the most important steps a business can take is to check on who it is employing in the first place.
"You may not want to employ someone who had got sacked from their last job for gross misconduct, so why not just double check their credentials by ringing up their previous employer?"
If directors and managers of a business set a good example by adopting an ethical policy towards customers, suppliers and employees, then this should help to create an appropriate culture towards fraud within the organisation.
Mr Bennett said: " Promoting an anti-fraud culture is just one of the many ways that a business can help to reduce the risk of fraud. And treating people fairly and honestly may also have the positive impact of improving the morale of a business's most valuable assets, its employees."
Meanwhile Birmingham solicitor Williamson and Soden says rule changes at the Land Registry have introduced some welcome new fraud restrictions. The restrictions are aimed at preventing in particular the misappropriation of funds generated by land and property sales.
An interested party can now place a restriction on the title to land or buildings.
This means that a disposition cannot be registered unless the Land Registry first receives a certificate signed by a conveyancer which confirms that the signature on the disposition documents is indeed that of the registered owner.
"This restriction offers a useful course of action for anyone who has reason to believe that someone may try to forge their signature on a legal document dealing with land and buildings," said Louisa Jakeman, associate partner and commercial property specialist at Williamson and Soden.