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How expense policy failings are fueling global fraud

Expense fraud is a growing business concern 

A failure to properly communicate expense policy is one of the key factors behind workplace fraud, research has concluded.

A global study by Webexpenses has found that more than one-in-six (61%) of office workers admit to not having seen or read their company’s expense policy within the previous 12 months.

This lack of visibility was heightened by a corresponding failure of businesses to enforce policies. The study found that 84% of respondents had never had a reimbursement claim challenged or rejected.

It’s this fundamental policy failing that helps to explain how exaggerated and falsified reimbursements costs are contributing to global workplace fraud losses of $2.9 trillion each year.

Government failings

But it’s not just businesses who are struggling to properly communicate and enforce their policies; it’s an issue that has recently been raised with UK government workers.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed the costs being claimed by those members of House of Commons staff who have been issued with procurement credit cards.

The FOI information includes the findings of a 2016 audit report which took a sample of 50 business card claims and checked to see if they were within expense policy. If found that 21 of the 50 could not be classed as legitimate business costs.

The report concluded that “most cardholders had not effectively read or understood the procurement policy, particularly with regard to prohibited purposes.”

Costly convenience

These findings help to highlight the challenge that’s facing all organisations when it comes to finding effective ways to communicate and maintain an expense policy.

It’s to achieve this that more businesses are moving to cloud-based expense solutions like Webexpenses that provide the tools needed to make expense policy an active part of an everyday workflow.

Instead of policy breaches having to be rooted out and challenged retrospectively by finance departments, a digital system carries out automated checks in real-time.

If costs being claimed falls outside of any predefined spending limits, it’s immediately flagged and can be blocked until its legitimacy is verified.

Expense policy shield

Policy ‘nags’ and reminders can also be delivered to claimants during the submissions process with on-screen notifications relating to the type of reimbursement being claimed.

Rather than an expense policy being a static document, something that’s liable to be glanced at and then forgotten, it becomes integrated into the day-to-day workflow. It’s an effective way to fight against the normalisation of workplace fraud.

The Webexpenses survey found that more than a third of respondents (37%) said that if they were ‘sensible’ with dishonest claims, they would never be checked or challenged.

Webexpenses provides a smarter way to manage employee expenses. Find out how it can help your business by requesting a free demo. You can also read our global report that explores the changing nature of expense fraud here for free.