Q: The administrative assistant who processes our company's credit card statements just came to me and alleged three of our managers cheat on their expense accounts. We always have relied on the honor system and I don't know what to do here. The amounts are so small I'm not sure I want to make a big deal out of this.
A: You need to investigate and if you find fraud, discipline those who cheated.
When you let managers steal small amounts, your company loses more than money. Employees lose respect for managers who fudge their expense accounts. Some feel entitled to their own larceny, from taking home office supplies to processing personal mailings through the company postage machine. Poor expense account reporting jeopardizes your company's tax deductions for employee reimbursements.
Once you have investigated and handled any prior fraud, set up a system to prevent future cheating. Create a document that outlines your company's policy concerning expense report accuracy and require all managers and employees to read and sign the document.
Insist on promptly submitted original documents of hotel bills, credit card receipts and other expense documents. Companies that accept delays or photocopies allow false receipts and multiple reimbursements.
Every receipt needs to include the event's business purpose, the date, time and place where the expense occurred and the name and position of the person entertained or fed. Not only does the IRS require these details for any expense over $75 but requiring this substantiating detail makes managers or employees think twice about fabricating facts.
Q: I normally can tell when someone likes me and I've left my last three interviews with good vibes but got turned down for each job. I called the last interviewer and heard my background check torpedoed my chances. I've never been in any legal trouble but when I argued this with the interviewer, he hung up on me. How do I fix this?
A: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the ability to ask for details when an employer turns you down because of a problematic background check. Given what you've said, you may have been tagged with inaccurate negative information.
False background check information easily occurs when employers use less than reputable internet or smartphone-based background checking sites.
In January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning to three companies selling mobile applications providing background reports. The FTC questions whether these applications and their customers comply with FCRA requirements that ensure accuracy and give those investigated the ability to correct mistakes -- such as a disclosure-and-authorization requirement, a pre-adverse-action notice requirement and a post-adverse-action notice requirement.
These requirements don't apply to employers who do their own background checks; however application companies, as third parties, likely fall under the FCRA requirements.
To fix this, call each of these three employers and ask for your background check results. If you learn you have been unfairly defamed, let the employers know and work with a legitimate background checking company to clear your record.
-- Lynne Curry is a management trainer, consultant and president of Alaska's The Growth Company Inc. in Anchorage. Email her at lynne@thegrowth company.net