Everyone knows the old saying about death and taxes being our only guarantees in life, but a recent article from CNN makes employee expense fraud sound like a third certainty. The article exposes some underhanded tricks used by business travelers to beef up their reimbursement checks, including phony receipts, double billing plane tickets and expensing purchases that are then resold on eBay. It’s true that manual processing helps hide fraudulent expenses; the sheer amount of paperwork that crosses the manager’s desk combined with lack of automated oversight cultivates easy processing for non-compliant charges and slow discovery of employee fraud, sometimes taking as long as 24 months.
While no system can certify 100% fraud-free expense reporting, specialized software can help discourage dishonest behavior and catch offenders. Automated expense reporting provides a net of checks and balances that manual processing does not, including enforcement of company policy and spending limits, red-flagging of duplicates and transactions that don’t “look right,” the ability to download credit card purchase data and scan/fax receipts, and a configurable workflow that ensures management approval before expenses are paid. It’s harder to slip double receipts past a manager that has so many tools to help him/her catch fraudulent activity.
Beyond taking advantage of what an automated expense management system has to offer, companies can further prevent expense fraud by writing a clear, easily-accessible travel policy, encouraging purchases made with company-issued credit cards and contracted vendors, and mandating usage of automated expense reporting. These tips combined with strict enforcement will help keep your travelers compliant and your company’s money where it should be.