Nobody likes the experience of dealing with byzantine travel and expense reports. But small business owners should pay particularly careful attention to them.

It turns out the cost of expense fraud is nearly a third higher at companies with fewer than 100 employees, than at larger buinesses, according to expense report software company Certify, which issued a report on the subject Wednesday. The median loss for fraudulent expenses at all companies is about $30,000. That’s not chump change--for many small businesses, it's equivalent to travel expenses for an entire year.

Here are the four most common types of fraud, according to Certify:

1. Mischaracterized expenses: These are personal expenses hiding as business charges.

2. Overstated expenses: Look for altered receipts requesting reimbursement for inflated amounts.

3. Fictitious Expenses: Fake purchases using altered or fraudulent receipts.

4. Multiple Reimbursements: The same receipt is submitted on multiple expense reports.

To take a bite out of your own fraud, Certify recommends a strong compliance monitoring system that sets limits on specific kinds of spending, such as airfare, hotel rooms, or so-called miscellaneous items, which are in the top five of report spending by dollar volume. In 2015, U.S. companies will spend $186 billion on T&E, and $1 billion will be lost to fraud, Certify says, citing data from J.P. Morgan Chase. 

Published on: Sep 3, 2015