Many companies issue credit cards to employees for various purchases, including office supplies, business-related meals and travel expenses. However, at times, employees may misuse the company credit card, instead swiping it for the wrong types of work-related expenses or, worse, for personal use, including cash advances, personal travel, home-related expenses and more. Once you find out that an employee has used company credit inappropriately, act quickly so other employees don't follow suit or the misuse continues.
Look over company credit records to determine which charges are inappropriate or not company-related. Highlight them and make copies for both the finance department and, if need be, the employee's personnel file. This not only gives you an idea of how much the card has been misused, but also provides you a point of reference to use when talking with the employee.
Confer with human resources before you talk with the employee. Chances are they will need to be in the room with you when you ask the employee about the charges. Moreover, they can tell you how to proceed should the employee admit to misusing the card for personal use, particularly if he knew it was against company rules.
Schedule a meeting with the employee. Ask if he received a copy of the company guidelines when he received the card. This tells you if he was aware of policies regarding company credit use. Give him a chance to explain and find out if the charges were deliberate, if he is even responsible for the charges or if this was simply a case of using the wrong card for the wrong types of purchases. If the action was malicious and deliberate, then you may need to take disciplinary action. The severity of the discipline should depend on his overall record as well as the amount charged, his willingness to admit his indiscretion and the level of remorse he shows. Record the conversation, with his permission, in the event that you need to pursue the matter further, such as filing criminal charges.
Initiate whatever course of action fits the level of the misuse. If it was simply a matter of unintentional misuse, then reiterate guidelines regarding card use and give the employee another chance. If the charges were purposeful, use your company guidelines to make the best decision and take into account the employee's history and the nature of the charges. If the charges run into the thousands, that is considered grand theft in most states, and you may have no choice but to contact your local police department and have them to pursue charges against the employee.
Institute stricter guidelines regarding credit card use. According to the Inside Indiana Business website, check charges every month and flag those that look suspicious. Make it a rule for employees to ask before making any charge over a certain amount of money. Limit the number of cards you give out to employees, allowing only those that need to regularly purchase supplies for the business to maintain a company credit account.
Lynda Moultry Belcher is a writer, editor and public relations professional. She worked for a daily newspaper for 10 years and has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. She has contributed to Divorce360 and Revolution Health Group, among other publications. She is also the author of "101 Plus-Size Women's Clothing Tips" and writes "Style At Any Size," a bi-weekly newspaper column.