7 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Earn Your CFE Credential


John Loftis, CFE
ACFE Membership Communications Manager

I recently saw a discussion in the CFE Exam Preparation community about people who are resolving to earn their CFE credential in 2017. According to statistics, more than 30 percent of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after the first two weeks of January. Many resolutions like better health, better finances or finding the love of your life are things that I unfortunately cannot help you with, but I can help you to create a plan that will put you on the path to passing the CFE Exam.

I read an article in Forbes this week called, 7 Secrets of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions. I noticed how many of these secrets could apply to the CFE Exam. Based on that article, below is a quick framework to help you avoid becoming one of the 30 percent and earn the CFE credential.

1. Specify your goals

One of the trendy concepts you have probably heard of is creating SMART goals i.e. making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. You want to earn your CFE credential in 2017, but did you pick a deadline yet? Review the 30-, 60- and 90-day study plans. Pick one and stick with it.  

2. Break it down

You have to study for the exam, complete the application process and finally take the exam. That can be intimidating. However, the process is much more manageable if you break it down into small chunks. Create mini-goals to help you along the way.

Here are some examples:

  • Complete the Pre-Assessment by 1/24/2017
  • Submit the CFE Exam application before 1/31/2017
  • Answer all the questions in the Fraud Prevention section by 2/8/2017

The 30-, 60- and 90-day study plans include a checklist of deadlines that will help you create these mini-goals.

3. Schedule it

When I studied for my CFE Exam, I decided I would study during my lunch hour. Every day for about three months, I packed my lunch, sat at my desk and studied. Maybe studying at lunch will not work for you, but it is important to choose a time and place, and study consistently.

4. Measure progress

The CFE Exam Prep Course includes tools for tracking your study progress. You can also use this chart to keep track of the time you spend studying.

5. Share your goals in the CFE Exam Preparation Community

Stop by the CFE Exam Preparation Community and share your goals. As the Forbes article mentions, social support is critical. Who better to share your goals with than colleagues around the world who are preparing to pass the CFE Exam?

6. Something is better than nothing

At the most recent Principles of Fraud Examination course taught by the ACFE, I was discussing CFE Exam preparation with a member. I told her that even if you only have time to answer 10 questions a day in the Prep Course, you are still moving forward. Some progress is better than no progress and you will be surprised how many questions you answer after you knock out those first 10 questions.

7. Get up when you slip up

If you miss a day, week or even a month of studying, do not give up. Revisit your mini-goals, adjust your deadlines and get going. You can do it!

Because I am a quote person, I will leave you with this:

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” -Confucius

Resolve to Protect Yourself From Fraud in 2016


Sarah Hofmann
ACFE Public Relations Specialist

At the beginning of a New Year, many people set goals to embark on a healthier lifestyle. But while you promise to exercise more, or eat less junk food, it is wise to take some time to think about how healthy you are in regards to fraud. All consumers are susceptible to fraud, but many don’t know simple steps they can take to protect themselves. Here are a few simple things you can do in 2016 to protect yourself:

Pay attention to the features of your credit card
On October 1, 2015 all major credit cards in the U.S. were supposed to be switched from using a magnetic strip for authentication to using an embedded EMV chip. In theory, this change is supposed to add an extra layer of security as the embedded EMV chip would create a unique code for each transaction as opposed to just imparting the full credit card data. However, according to a creditcard.com survey, more than 40 percent of consumers had yet to receive EMV cards by the October 1 deadline. In addition to card issuers not sending the new cards, many Americans mistook mail containing the new cards as junk mail and threw them out.

Since transactions using chip cards are harder to hack, fraudsters will no doubt focus much more heavily on stealing data from transactions using only magnetic strip technology. If you have not received an EMV chip card from your card issuer, or if you believe you might have accidentally disposed of the card, it is important to contact the card provider right away and request that a new copy be sent. Also, if possible, try and shop in stores that have working chip-readers integrated into their point-of-sale system. The technology is not fool-proof, but it will be more likely to protect against avoidable data theft.

Be more careful about what you post on social media
It seems like everyone is now using some form of social media on a daily basis, whether it be Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. While these can serve as good tools to keep abreast of the lives of friends and family, or to maintain professional connections, they can also help hackers who are trying to steal identities. Something as simple as putting your full birthdate on any social media can allow fraudsters to hack into your important financial accounts. 

Some important rules to abide by include never posting your full birthdate, primary email address, hometown, driver’s license number or social security number on any public forum. It is also a good idea to have one constant answer to security questions that is not a logical answer (for example, answering “porcupine” to every question, regardless if it asks what city you were born in, mother’s maiden name etc.) Changing passwords frequently can help, as well as avoiding common password themes such as the names of pets, children or spouses. Another tip is to avoid installing or using applications made available through social media, as they often do not have the same level of security as the social media platform and create an easy back door for hackers to get through.

Protect your tax refund
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans request their tax refund and are told it has already been claimed. This is not a new scam, but unfortunately it continues to happen despite what controls are in place at the IRS. ACFE Guardian Award winner Brian Krebs suggests that tax payers file their taxes as early as possible in order to beat would-be thieves to the punch. Another way to prevent refund fraud is to closely monitor your credit score. Consumers can get a free credit report once every year from three different bureaus, so your best bet is to request your credit score from one bureau every four months to see if there is fraudulent activity.

If your tax refund is stolen, you can contact the IRS and fill out forms to officially alert them that the fraud has occurred. That alert can be crucial to helping law enforcement eventually catch the fraudsters responsible for the theft.

While these steps cannot guarantee total immunity from fraudsters, they are simple things that can help you make 2016 a year without fraud.

The ACFE’s Top 3 New Year’s Resolutions for 2015


Courtney Pedersen
ACFE Communications Coordinator

I have yet to decide my 2015 New Year’s resolutions. And well into the New Year, I am still drawing a blank. In 2012, I resolved to have a “real” job six months after college graduation (check). In 2013, I resolved to buy a home in the crazy Austin, Texas, market (check). And, in 2014, I resolved to live healthier so I joined a gym (check. Well, I joined a gym; whether or not I am active in said gym is not worthy of discussion). Thankfully, as always, the ACFE is prepared this New Year to do more for you in 2015 than ever before.

  1. Offer you even more online resources
    With online self-studies, a fraud resource library, Fraud-Magazine.com and more, the ACFE provides a variety of online resources to give you access to cutting-edge anti-fraud knowledge, whenever and wherever you need it. In 2015, the ACFE will expand these offerings, including YouTube videos that are shareable with colleagues and clients, career videos, podcasts and more. 

  2. Redesign Fraud-Magazine.com
    Fraud-Magazine.com will become a responsive site in 2015 and will boast a fresh, new design. This means that whether you are on a computer, tablet or mobile device, your Fraud-Magazine.com experience will be seamless and user-friendly. The site will also offer more online content and make reading the latest in fraud prevention and detection even easier.

  3. Host the largest anti-fraud conference ever, and offer more live events and seminars
    The 2015 ACFE Global Fraud Conference is on schedule to be the world’s largest anti-fraud conference to date with more than 3,000 expected to attend in Baltimore. Not only are we concentrating on making this experience memorable and informative, we have also been concentrating on growing our international events. Last year the ACFE held 12 international events, compared to eight events in 2013. This year, we plan to continue to offer international members the opportunity to network and learn in a seminar environment in cities like Dubai, United Arad Emirates, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and more.

The ACFE’s New Year’s resolutions will help all members this year in the office and abroad. Whether you have decided on your resolution or are still pondering like I am, just remember that the ACFE is committed to doing more for you in 2015.

New Year's Resolution #3: Continue to Go Mobile


There are a handful of things I rarely leave home without: my wallet, my keys, my cell phone and my daughter. And, yes, those are listed in ascending order of importance. There are even days when making it out of the house with all four seems impossible, but thank goodness it is usually the first three that I end up searching for the most before heading out the door. Who knows? Maybe in a few decades my cell phone will be all I need to access my credit cards, keys, contacts and…baby. Maybe not.

We know your lists are pretty short when it comes to the vital things you need to start and finish your day. That is why in 2012, we created a few mobile resources for you to access while bustling from meeting to boardroom to home and back again. In July, we offered members a new Fraud Magazine mobile application (app) to make reading the bimonthly publication as easy as possible. The free app, available for the iPad, iPhone and Android smartphones, gives you complete access to the current issue as well as multiple back issues of the magazine directly on your favorite mobile device.

In September, we launched a new monthly podcast, Fraud Talk, to give you case studies and news you could hear and download from anywhere you have Internet access. We wanted to offer a free tool for you to use when commuting, traveling or driving. We also wanted to give you archives that you could access when most convenient for you and your schedule.

And, we are now excited to announce that in the next few months we will unveil a new ACFE app to make maintaining and accessing your ACFE membership even easier. The app will give you access to your ACFE account information, anti-fraud resources currently only available on ACFE.com and the ability to purchase training materials and register for events.

With ACFE membership mobile options you don’t have to remember another thing to add to your short list every morning. Stay tuned tomorrow for our #2 New Year’s Resolution for 2013!

And the ACFE's No. 1 New Year's Resolution Is...


James D. Ratley, CFE

ACFE President and CEO

And the ACFE’s #1 New Year’s Resolution for 2012 is…


#1: Continue to be the Best Anti-Fraud Organization in the World

From the moment we began the ACFE more than 20 years ago, we have always maintained that we don’t want to be the biggest organization, or the fanciest, or the most exclusive. We simply want be the best. We strive to provide the best benefits, the best education, the best events, the best products and the best people around to assist a membership we are proud to say spans borders, cultures and professions.

As we look ahead to a promising year, I can’t help but reflect on the record-breaking year we had at the ACFE in 2011. We had more than 2,200 attendees at our ACFE Annual Fraud Conference in San Diego, Calif., last June, setting attendance at an all-time high. Our Asia-Pacific Fraud Conference took place for the first time in Singapore last October, and we welcomed a record-number of new CFEs to the organization. We launched a newly-designed ACFE.com and continue to hear how much easier the site is to navigate and how the updated look reflects our growing and changing membership.

I encourage those of you who have “Becoming a CFE” on your list of resolutions to take advantage of the resources and people we have available here at the ACFE to help you achieve your goal. Whether you need a coach, a Review Course, tips and tricks, an organized plan or just a learned ear, we are here to get you moving in the right direction.

So, while looking ahead is exciting and a necessary step to remaining the best anti-fraud organization in the world, we also look at the many achievements and changes we have made over the last year that remind us of all that can and will be accomplished in the years to come.

Here is a recap of exactly how we plan to remain on top:

  • Grow the ACFE Advisory Council
  • Continue to Provide New and Relevant Courses and Events
  • Expand Our International Presence
  • Improve the Design and Content in Fraud Magazine

What are you hoping to achieve this year? Leave us your comments below.