BACK

Your Business Credit

How to handle an employee misusing a business credit card

Summary

If you’re a business and issuing employees cards, make sure you have the right system in place to avoid inappropriate charges.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Dear Your Business Credit,

I have a few employees who have company credit cards. The cards are Chase business cards, and each one is in each person’s own name along with the name of the business.

We have someone who pays all the bills and is supposed to match the cards and receipts. However, she hasn’t been doing that and has just been paying the bills each month.

We discovered about two months ago that over the past year one of our employees has been using the card for personal use, for grocery store purchases and gas and stuff like that. However, we can’t find all the receipts to go through them, nor do we really know what they were or weren’t supposed to be putting on there.

Their limit was $2,500 a month, and we know there is stuff on there that was business-related and stuff that was not. We have never had anyone sign anything saying what they can or cannot use the cards for.

Is there anything we can legally do in this situation?

We have not fired the person and have just started to take money out of each paycheck, but if the employee quits is there anything we can do?  – James

Dear James,

I see two problems here. One is that you have an employee who has, essentially, been stealing from the company by using a company credit card for personal expenses. The other is that the person you have been counting on to look out for such problems has failed to do so – removing the one safeguard you have in place to prevent employee card misuse.

From your note, it sounds as if you have already confronted the employee and made a determination that the employee owes you restitution. It also appears that the employee has agreed to pay you some of the money back. Otherwise, I don’t see how you would be deducting money from this individual’s paycheck.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Ask Elaine a question.

See related: How to avoid unwanted purchases on a company credit card

Determine what your company is owed

What I’m not clear about is how you determined the amount owed, given that you say you can’t find all of the receipts.

I am also unsure why you don’t know what the employee was or was not supposed to be putting on the card. If you are the owner or manager of the business, you must have some sense of what an appropriate business charge would be for your industry.

For instance, if you run an auto parts store, it would be highly unusual for an employee to make business purchases at a grocery store on a routine basis.

If the employee cannot produce receipts showing what the purchases actually were, I suggest you contact the credit card issuer to find out if you can get more detail on any business expenses for which the employee cannot provide receipts. If you are the card guarantor, this may be possible.

This will help you come up with a more accurate amount the employee must pay back. If the amount is substantial, I would speak with an attorney who has experience in credit-related matters to see what you can do.

It may be hard to prove an employee misused the card if you never offered any guidance on how to use the card appropriately, but an attorney may have some creative ideas after delving into the particulars of your situation.

Get expert advice

In the meantime, I would bring in an experienced human resources consultant to help you draft a written policy covering employee use of company credit cards and distribute it to anyone who has a company-issued card.

This policy should define what employees are and are not allowed to charge to the card.

In your shoes, I would seriously consider revoking the offending employee’s credit card, but before you do, ask for advice from your HR pro on how best to handle this.

Put someone else in charge of checking company card bills

As for the person who is supposed to be reviewing your team’s credit card purchases and comparing them to receipts employees have submitted, it doesn’t appear you have put the right person in charge of this job.

If the person you have tasked to match receipts to charges does not have the time or temperament to check things over carefully, reassign the job to someone who does. The potential for financial damage to your business is too great to let this slide.

Good luck!

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

What’s up next?

In Your Business Credit

How long can a payment processor hold funds from my business?

If payment processors are holding on to funds to investigate transactions, there are some best practices to make the system smoother

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: October 28th, 2020
Business
13.91%
Airline
15.50%
Cash Back
15.85%
Reward
15.75%
Student
16.12%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more