Elaine Pofeldt is a journalist whose articles on entrepreneurship and careers have appeared in Fortune, Working Mother, Money and many other publications. She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and an entrepreneur herself, as co-founder of 200kfreelancer.com, a website for independent professionals. She writes “Your Business Credit,” a weekly column about small business and credit, for CreditCards.com.
Dear Your Business Credit,
I have an employee who has opened corporate credit cards. Unfortunately, the person is not being forthcoming with the different accounts that have since been opened under her tenure. Is there a way to find out what credit cards have been opened under the company’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) and for which it is now liable? Apparently, a business credit report does not list open credit cards. Thank you. – Noelle
The simplest way is to get the employee to tell you the truth. I would speak with an HR consultant about the proper way to notify the employee in writing that you would like a full accounting of all the cards she has opened in the name of the business or for which she has given the company’s FEIN. Letting the employee know you are serious may help you get the information you need. (Also find out your options for terminating her, if you need to.)
It does not seem like it would be very easy for the employee to open a credit card with your FEIN alone. Most small-business cards require someone to provide a personal guarantee, so if she opened a card, she probably would have had to personally guarantee it herself or she would have had to have forged your name.
If you think your employee has access to your Social Security number and may have opened cards in your name and forged your signature as the guarantor, then I would suggest contacting the three major credit bureaus to see if any of your personal credit reports list cards in your name that you did not know about. It is possible that if she opened cards under your name or Social Security number, they would show up there.
I’d also suggest that you start bringing in the mail for your business and look at what statements are arriving. As you figure out which credit cards have been opened, start having credit card bills mailed to your home, not the business, so you can keep track of them. Also take a close look at your checking account records to track where ACH payments are being made or checks are being sent. This may point you to cards that you didn’t know about.
What if the employee is having statements sent to her home or email address and is paying the bills using personal funds? Then the approach I suggest won’t help you. However, if that is the case – and you never personally guaranteed any cards she opened – it would be difficult for a credit card issuer to come after you. If it turned out she forged your signature or otherwise misused your personal information, you would be able to make a complaint about identity theft.
There is a big underlying question here: Why is an employee who won’t be forthcoming when it comes to financial accounts still working for your company? You clearly don’t trust her. I’d go with your instincts.
Many small-business owners get defrauded by untrustworthy employees. Do you really need someone like this on your team?
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