Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to the questions we are most frequently asked about our anonymessage™ service for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. . .

1. How does it work?
anonymessage is an externally hosted service linked to your company intranet site. Employees use our anonymous, secure messaging service to communicate with your Audit Committee members via web mail, voice mail, or postal mail. Employee anonymity is maintained at all times. Message content is kept secure and confidential. Confidential address data for Audit Committee members is not exposed to employees. Each message is assigned a case number for tracking and follow-up purposes. Compliance reports allow company administrators to ensure that employee allegations are received and read by Audit Committee members.

2. How does your voice mail box feature work?
Your employees will have access to an external voice mailbox, dedicated exclusively to your company, with its own unique telephone number. Any message left on the voice mailbox will have a case number assigned and will then be electronically forwarded to all Audit Committee members.

3. How does your post office box feature work?
A dedicated postal box address will be assigned to your company. Any message received at this address will have a case number assigned and will then be electronically forwarded to all Audit Committee members.

4. Why not use our own voice mailbox?
You could create your own voice mailbox, but it may not be anonymous if your phone system tracks caller id. Employees may also question the confidentiality and security of an internal voice mailbox. In addition, you will have the cost of checking the voice mailbox regularly and forwarding the messages to your Audit Committee in a secure manner. It would require additional effort on your part to create the follow-up system, tracking and compliance reporting provided by anonymessage .

5. Why not use our own post office box? Employees may question the confidentiality and security of post office box that you maintain. In addition, you will have the cost of checking the mailbox regularly and forwarding the messages to your Audit Committee in a secure manner. It would also require additional effort to create the follow-up system, tracking and compliance reporting provided by anonymessage.

6. Why not just direct my employees to call our general counsel's office?
It is not clear that having an intermediary receive employee allegations will meet the requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley and related regulations. It is also not clear (especially if general counsel is an in-house employee) that such communications will be perceived to be anonymous and confidential. If you use outside legal counsel, substantial costs may be incurred based on their hourly fee structure. There will be additional effort to create the follow-up system, tracking and compliance reporting provided by anonymessage.

 

7. Why not just have employees use an e-mail alias via Yahoo! or Hotmail?
While using a free third-party e-mail service such as Yahoo! or Hotmail would alias the employee's identity; there are two major problems with this approach. The employee would not know the Audit Committee members' e-mail addresses, and they may choose not to make this information public to all employees. The second problem is that there would be no way of telling that the message actually came from a company employee and not from a competitor or outsider trying to disrupt your company's operations. In addition, you would not have the tracking and compliance reporting provided by anonymessage.

8. How can Audit Committee members follow up on employee allegations?
Each employee message is automatically assigned a unique case number, which is provided to both the initiating employee and the receiving Audit Committee members. This case number can be used by the Audit Committee to reference a specific message. The employee may choose to provide contact information, including an anonymous personal e-mail address, to allow the Audit Committee to communicate directly in order to answer any follow-up questions. Alternatively, the case number can be used by the Audit Committee to communicate with the entire employee population to request additional information if desired. In this way, employee anonymity is maintained while still providing a mechanism for follow-up if more information is necessary.

9. How can I track usage of the system for compliance reporting?
Each employee message sent and message received and acknowledged by Audit Committee members is tracked automatically in the anonymessage system. A report listing case numbers only, without reference to content, and indicating which Audit Committee members have reviewed the allegation message, is visible to Company compliance officers or auditors. Each Audit Committee member sees their own list of messages which have been received, with acknowledgement status.

10. What is the involvement required from my IT department?
There are minimal technical requirements in order to support the anonymessage system. We recommend that a link (Company-specific URL is provided) to your personalized anonymessage home page be added to your company intranet, and that the location of this link be communicated to your employees in a prominent manner. Communications plan templates, including management letters and e-mails to employees, are provided with the service. All other system configuration and administration is easy and interactive and is designed to be accomplished by personnel with no technical expertise. Our help desk personnel are ready to assist you with any customer support questions.

11. What are the penalties for failing to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley?
Penalties for failing to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley and its related requirements can be severe. Your company's stock may be delisted from the major exchanges if you are not in compliance. Potential penalties for company executives include up to 25 years in jail and fines of up to 5 Million dollars. In addition, employees who feel that they have been terminated unfairly as a "whistle blower" can sue for monetary damages and restoration of their employment, highlighting the importance of maintaining employee confidentiality and anonymity in handling complaints.

 



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November 15, 2002.

MessagePeople announces the first integrated web/voice/postal solution for anonymous, secure compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

December 22, 2002.

Time Magazine names Whistle-Blowers as Persons of the Year. Read the article.