While it might be a fun and relaxing time for students, Spring Break is when those overseeing a Higher Education purchasing card (P-Card) program need to be as on guard and watchful as ever for misuse and fraud.
Tons of Transactions — and a Lot of Risk
How many people have access to a P-Card at a university or college? When you consider that most public universities have employees numbering in the tens of thousands, that’s quite a few people — and many, many transactions to track and review.
Sadly, not all of these employees are going to be scrupulously using their P-Cards. And for such employees, Spring Break might be just another excuse to take advantage of an overwhelmed P-Card program for their own personal gain.
As such, Spring Break can be an extremely important time for institutions to watch out for personal T&E expenses (including spending that might even be international). When set up as “red flags,” these transactions can alert management to improprieties, and in the end, catch employee fraud.
Troublesome transactions would include:
- flights to warm, exotic locations
- pricey restaurants
- entertainment venues such as sporting events or nightclubs.
As receipts come in during this time, institutions need a system that can handle a large number of expenditures, while still being on the high lookout for personal purchases in the “travel” category.
Students Are Often Employees Too
Now consider that at least some of these employees are actually students of that institution as well. Student interns, graduate assistants, work-study participants, and administrators of student organizations are often approved as holders of P-Cards.
However, these students can slip through communication cracks and find themselves lacking the knowledge of compliant issues that are common for higher eduction, such as spend limits and prohibited purchases. As a result, these students are immediately at risk for improper use of their cards.
No Vacation from Vigilance
While Spring Break is an especially crucial time to be vigilant, the truth is that — whether it’s Spring Break or not — any travel that looks like a vacation is suspect and worthy of further analysis. Personal spend and non-compliant misuses are areas of which higher eduction should always be on high alert.
Give Your P-Card Program Its Own Break
Given higher education’s immense amount of employees and their resulting transactions, managing a P-Card program can be extremely challenging. First, employees need to be kept properly educated. Then, a keen eye must be kept on their many expenditures.
Training all those employees and reviewing all those transactions requires both time and just-as-educated personnel. Training needs to be thorough, with follow-ups that ensure full comprehension. Transaction validations require competent, knowledgeable reviewers who know exactly what to look for and what to catch.
With so many employees to train and so many transactions to oversee, achieving success can be difficult if not downright impossible for most institutions on their own. But Card Integrity can give your institution’s P-Card program a break from that burden.
First, there’s our cardholder training solution, “TRAINING-WISE.” Training sessions tailored with an institution’s specific policies and compliances are administered via an efficient online system.
Then, Card Integrity integrates that training with solutions that monitor up to five million transactions and report back to your institution on a monthly basis. Card Integrity can identify personal use red flags — as specific as your institution deems them to be — to weed out the abusive cardholders and prevent fraud and misuse in the future.