Preventing Fleet Card Fraud: A Mutual Effort With Drivers Works Best

A flexible payment method always comes with the risk of misuse, fraud, or theft. Fleet cards are no exception. But the right controls can dramatically reduce these risks. 

In this article, we look at some common types of fraudulent fuel purchases and some tips for stopping them.

What is a fleet card fraud?

Fleet card fraud is simply the use of a card to purchase fuel for non-business purposes. This form of fraud can be accidental or purposeful, but its costs are very real either way.  

Fleet card fraud can be committed either internally by employees or by external parties. Accidental fraud or misuse is another possibility. An employee’s family member may even be borrowing their card without them knowing it. 

We highlight some of the most important types of fraud below. 

What types of fleet card fraud are common?

  • Skimming (external): a third-party alters a pump’s card reader with a device that is capable of illegally obtaining credit card and pin info.
  • Stolen card or data (external): a fleet card or fleet card data is illegally obtained and exploited by a third party.
  • Siphoning (external or internal): an employee or non-employee uses a hose or siphoning device to remove fuel from a company asset and place it in a non-company vehicle or container.
  • Misuse (internal): an employee uses a company fleet card to purchase fuel for a non-company asset.
  • Slippage (internal): an employee uses a company fleet card to purchase non-fuel related items like snacks or souvenirs.
  • Overfilling (internal): a driver fills a side container after fueling a company vehicle.

How to Identify Fraud

The best fleet cards should offer proactive features to minimize the risk of fraud. Automated alerts can notify management when suspicious spending occurs. Custom controls can restrict spending by total amount, geography, or time-of-day, helping preemptively stop non-business related spending. Automatic pump shut-off can even prevent a card from being used for more fuel that its associated vehicle requires.

Personalized driver PIN numbers are another simple but effective protection. If a driver keeps their PIN private, their card can’t be used if stolen. Because each driver has their own number, each purchase can clearly be tied to a specific driver. Honest drivers won’t be at risk for being blamed incorrectly. 

Finally, because fleet card frauds collect mileage data, siphoning and other tactics can easily be caught. Stolen gas that doesn’t contribute to miles traveled will be readily apparent in the data. 

These technology tools give businesses powerful options to prevent fraud and respond quickly when it does occur. 
It’s important to remember that these tools have the most impact when used as part of a trusting partnership with company drivers

How to Work with Your Drivers to Prevent Fraud

Without a thoughtful rollout, the controls and monitoring offered by a quality fleet card risk feeling punitive to drivers. Punitive controls run the risk of alienating drivers. Drivers can even become fearful of making mistakes. Meanwhile, your best employees may feel defensive and angry. 

Thoughtful, honest communication with your drivers can help ensure a mutually beneficial focus on fraud prevention.

Assume the Best of Your Drivers

Probably the best advice we can give is to assume the best of your drivers. Mistakes happen. Use analytics and reporting to uncover spending anomalies at the pump, but don’t jump to conclusions that an anomaly means willful fraud. The overcharge could have a simple explanation. The easiest way to lose a driver’s trust is by assuming the worst and making false accusations. If a charge doesn’t seem related to work, reach out to the driver to ask. 

If you do use specific restrictions as part of your fuel spending policy, let your drivers know ahead of time. A time-of-day or purchase-amount restriction can frustrate drivers if they encounter it unexpectedly when on the road.

Empower Drivers with “Insider” Knowledge

Knowledge is empowering, and shared knowledge can create an empowered team. Let drivers know why you’re using a fleet card, how it works, and what data is being captured. Educate drivers on how fleet card fraud hurts every company stakeholder, form ownership to drivers. 

If telematics and GPS tracking are in use, explain the reasoning behind their use as well. Insider knowledge provides drivers with a sense of ownership and responsibility. 

An educated team can be the fleet manager’s most powerful ally in the fight against fleet card fraud. The tips below will help your drivers use their cards as securely as possible.

Card Safety Tips: Drivers Can Help Fight Fuel Card Fraud

  • Drivers should never store fleet cards in the vehicle. Find a secure place. If drivers return to the worksite before and after work, you can consider providing a designated secure location there. 
  • Never store the card and a record of the PIN in the same place.
  • Drivers must keep their PIN confidential: failing to do so will only open up the possibility of being falsely implicated in a fraudulent purchase. 
  • Always check a card-reader for a solid piece of casing before swiping: card skimmers will hide a hacking device under a false external casing.
  • Report lost or stolen cards immediately. 
  • Drivers should ensure that their card is returned immediately after the transaction is completed. 

In order to remain one step ahead, fleet managers must work together with their drivers to prevent fleet card fraud.