How to protect your business from fuel card fraud

Fuel cards for small businesses are a handy tool for allowing businesses to manage their fleet’s spending. However, if they become the subject of fraud from criminals or unethical employees, then it can cost businesses significant amounts of money. Understanding the types of fuel card fraud that can happen and how to prevent it will help to protect your business from losing this income. This article will guide you through what fuel card fraud is and the steps you can take to avoid it.

What is fuel card fraud?

Fuel card fraud is defined as incidents where fuel cards are used by undesignated people or for purchases that aren’t related to the business that owns them. There are two main types of fuel card fraud: internal and external. Internal fraud is when business employees use fuel cards for unauthorised or excessive purchases and external fraud is when the fuel card is used by undesignated third parties.

If third parties find a lost or stolen fuel card or any related documents, then they can start to misuse it to buy fuel for their own vehicles. They may also make excessive purchases for non-fuel items such as food and drink. Another crime that third parties commit involves cloning either fuel cards or vehicle registration numbers, recreating the cards and using them to purchase fuel or other items fraudulently. Most thefts or clones can be identified and dealt with quickly.

In contrast, the nature of internal fraud makes it harder to spot. Card misuse is one of the most common types of internal fraud and can involve employees sharing cards internally within the business to buy extra fuel or non-fuel items, sharing cards with friends and family or using them for personal purchases. Incidents of filling up separate containers or syphoning fuel and then refilling engines have also been reported.

Similarly, card slippage is when cards are used to purchase other non-fuel items or when petrol station cashiers inflate the amount spent on fuel for the employee to claim the excess in cash. In these cases, the fact that the card’s being used by an employee can make the fraud more difficult to identify and prove, though it’s made much easier if you choose a secure and helpful fuel card provider.

What steps can be used to protect from fuel card fraud?

Although getting 100% protection from fuel card fraud may not always be possible, there are certain controls that businesses can put in place to mitigate it from happening:

  • Give out individual cards: by assigning fuel cards to each driver, you can easily track each card’s usage, know if it’s being misused, or cancel it if it's been lost or stolen.
  • Set a limit on each card: by putting a purchase limit on each card, you can put a cap on any employee misuse and make sure third parties can only spend so much if the card is lost or stolen.
  • Check transactions regularly: whether it's through your invoices or via an online portal, checking the transaction records of each card regularly will help you to identify and stop any irregularities quickly.
  • Advise drivers on safety: as well as putting clear sanctions in place for any card misuse, giving drivers helpful advice on how to protect their cards and documents, such as keeping them permanently hidden and locked in their vehicle or a secure place, will make them less likely to be lost or stolen.
  • Choose a trusted provider: by finding a provider that offers secure fuel cards and online monitoring, you can get the support you need to prevent any fuel card fraud.

How to find a secure fuel card provider

As well as putting any driver or business controls in place, finding a secure and trusted fuel card provider will put you in the best position to prevent any fuel card fraud. With a reputation for helping businesses to make safe and straightforward fuel purchases, fuelGenie makes the security of your transactions a top priority.

By providing individual fuel cards free of charge, we help your drivers to make purchases easily, while also helping you to keep track of each transaction, including any date, time and location details. It’s also possible to set a monthly credit limit across the whole account, so no matter how many cards you have, you know there’ll only be a certain amount spent.

Plus, fuelGenie’s online management system means business owners can log in and see all their fleet's invoices and transactions in one place, making it easier to identify any irregularities. Working only with a trusted network of filling stations, fuelGenie makes it easier for drivers and businesses to access quality fuel while protecting them from fuel card fraud.

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