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How's my accounting?

Companies looking for a mechanism for employees to remain anonymous when reporting concerns about accounting or auditing irregularities--a requirement under Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002--can contract with an "ethics hotline" to provide the service.

The Network Inc., which also provides toll-free "How's my driving" tip lines to companies with commercial drivers, already has financial services companies, including Citigroup and Berkshire Hathaway, opting for the ethics hotline. Adele Erdman, a spokeswoman for the Norcross, Ga.based company, said it's been in business for 20 years.

"For years, there were just two or three network companies, but now with Sarbanes-Oxley, there are 35 or more," she said.

The hotline is most often used to augment a company's internal reporting processes, and gives another option to employees who might feel uncomfortable coming forward. It provides employees access to a dedicated interview specialist 24 hour a day, seven days a week. Each interview specialist is trained, and relies on specific software to ask callers detailed questions about the incidents they are reporting.

After the caller has been interviewed, the Network sends a report of what the caller said to the client company. The client company can then offer follow-up questions. When they call the hotline, callers are giving an identification number, and encouraged to call back in a few weeks to see if there are additional follow-up questions from the employer. "About 30% call back," Erdman said.

The company also has a history of offering the anonymous hotlines for retail stores, who use it to encourage employees to report fraud. The Network also provides insurance claim reporting.

Loss/Risk Management Notes is compiled by Senior Associate Editor Meg Green.
COPYRIGHT 2004 A.M. Best Company, Inc.
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Loss/Risk Management Notes; ethics hotline from The Network Inc.
Comment:How's my accounting? (ethics hotline from The Network Inc.)(Loss/Risk Management Notes)
Author:Green, Meg
Publication:Best's Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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