Fuel is one of the biggest expenses for a company with vehicles used for business. Fuel fraud can siphon money and time you can't afford from the business. The good news is, fuel cards can help you prevent fraud.
Fuel fraud is a catch-all term that includes both fuel card fraud and fuel theft. Companies can fall victim to internal fuel fraud, for example, when drivers steal gas or use fleet cards to buy food or cigarettes. This fraudulent activity is known as "slippage."
Companies can also fall victim to external fuel fraud — for example, misuse of lost or stolen cards, data breaches and phishing scams (stealing card information online). Skimming is also a threat; that is, when thieves install software or hardware designed to steal card information from payment terminals and bank machines.
But watching for the right red flags, and implementing fuel theft solutions, can help you stop this costly fraud — possibly before it starts.
Fuel fraud warning signs
It's not always glaringly obvious when fuel fraud is occurring, so it pays to introduce regular monitoring controls. Keeping a watchful eye on expense trends can help catch fuel fraud early, before perpetrators have a chance to rack up extensive charges.
Monitor your business data for these signals that can tip you off to fuel card fraud, fuel theft and other issues:
- Fuel fill-ups happen too frequently. Internal fuel fraud may involve: siphoning gas out of a company vehicle, filling up the tank of a personal car on the company fuel card or driving a fleet vehicle for personal use. Watch for frequent fill-ups when checking receipts and your fuel card reports.
- Fuel charges don't match mileage or tank capacity. Fuel purchases that are out of line with miles driven on the company vehicle, or with tank capacity, may also indicate internal fraud.
- You spot a charge from an odd location. Most regional drivers will fuel up at the same gas station, or handful of stations, based on their daily habits and routes. Keep tabs on gas station locations and look for purchases at any filling station where your drivers don't normally stop. Such a charge may be a red flag for external fraud.
As a small business owner or fleet manager, it can be tricky to spot trends early if you rely on paper receipts and log books. Fleetcor's back-end reporting and analytics make it easy to run reports, spot fueling anomalies and take swift action to stop fraud.
Put the brakes on fuel fraud
While it's important to know how to spot fraud, it's best to prevent fuel fraud before it happens. Prevention saves you money, and helps you avoid the hassle of dealing with the aftermath of fuel card fraud.
Fortunately, Fleetcor fuel cards offer controls and fuel theft solutions that will allow you to crack down on fuel fraud before it happens. Here are six steps you can take to prevent fuel fraud in your business:
- Require driver PINs. A fuel card can be assigned to a driver or assigned to a vehicle. By assigning a card and its unique PINs to each driver, you can easily track who made each purchase and spot abnormal activity linked to one driver. Tell your drivers to never share or reveal PINs to anyone else.
- Set a dollar limit on fuel spend. Fuel cards allow you to set a maximum amount of fuel a driver can purchase each day. Putting this cap in place will give the driver just enough room to fill up the tank of the fleet vehicle without any leeway for fraud.
- Cap the number of daily fueling trips. Think of how many times a day your drivers should be fueling up. Limiting the number of fuel purchases allowed per day can reduce internal and external fraud. For example, if your driver fueled up and then accidentally left the card at the gas station, a fraudster would be unable to make a second purchase that day.
- Ban non-fuel purchases with fuel cards. It's also a good idea to use card controls to restrict fuel card purchases to fuel, or possibly fuel and maintenance. This will prevent another common type of internal fuel fraud, in which a driver pulls out the company card to buy a sandwich or snack, cigarettes or even liquor at a gas station.
- Limit purchases by type of fuel. Do your vehicles operate on diesel? By allowing the purchase of diesel fuel only, you reduce the chances that a driver could buy extra fuel for a personal gasoline vehicle. Putting this limit in place also makes it less likely that a compromised card will be used to make fuel purchases.
- Restrict fueling days and times. Another control that can deter fraud is to allow purchases only on specific days or at specific times. For example, you can allow fuel charges during on-the-clock hours only and disallow them on evenings, weekends and holidays. Of course, you'll need to set these time windows based on your company and driver schedules.
Every credit cardholder is at risk for fraud, but a business with vehicles as assets, employees and expenses faces a higher risk of becoming a target. Fleetcor is here to help with fuel cards that offer the protection, control and oversight that may stop your business from falling victim to fuel fraud.