Fuel cards make it easy for drivers to pay at the pump and for fleet managers to monitor purchases. Like any other purchasing card, they can also be subject to fraud and misuse.
Fuel fraud comes in many forms, from card skimmers or use of a stolen card to an employee using a fuel card to purchase fuel for his or her personal vehicle or a friend’s or purchasing unauthorized merchandise at the convenience store.
Keeping fuel card transactions safe is a multi-step process, which includes setting a fuel card policy and training drivers. Another important step is to set controls on the use of the card itself.
“Strong controls will not only ensure spend is within the card policy guidelines, but will limit fraud exposure as well,” says Cheryl Garcia, senior vice president for government transportation at U.S. Bank.
Garcia says controls can be configured for specific vehicle or driver types or groups within a fleet. For example, based upon the type of vehicle, tank capacity, fuel efficiency, and number of hours of vehicle usage each day, there is a maximum expected usage that can help you determine the exact controls to protect your fleet.
Bernie Kavanagh, SVP/GM, large fleet & strategic relationships at WEX, Kavanagh underscores that while “controls” may sound stringent, fleets can adapt them as needed.
“We recommend knowing your fleet and being flexible,” he says. “Different vehicle types have different needs. It is important to look at the job duty the employee or vehicle might be performing for a particular department or agency,” he said.
Kavanagh said it’s important to keep in mind that seasonal needs may change purchasing behavior, so it’s wise to have a policy and notification process for drivers who may need to have their purchasing permissions changed from time to time.
Fuel Card Controls to Set and Monitor
Work with your fuel card provider to make sure you’ve got these controls in place based on your parameters:
Setting which states or ZIP codes in which cards can or can’t be used helps prevent fraud, since skimmers often use captured card information to make purchases outside of the fleet’s area of service.
2. Time of Day/Day of Week
Establishing parameters for what days and/or times cards can be used limits card usage to typical business hours, which can prevent fraud as well as off-hour usage of fleet cards for personal use.
3. Spending Limits
Putting limits on the amount that can be charged to a card per day or week helps limit the number of transactions and transaction totals to an appropriate number/amount for typical fleet usage, again limiting excessive spending and exposure to fraud and misuse.
4. Merchant Type
Establishing locations where cards can be used prevents unauthorized purchases and makes it such that a card is declined at merchants not on the list.
5. Fuel Grade
Limiting which types of fuel drivers can purchase prevents them from spending more on premium fuel.
6. Tank Capacity
Aligning the amount of fuel that can be purchased with a vehicle’s tank capacity helps prevents drivers from fueling non-fleet vehicles or filling additional tanks.
7. Fuel Only
Restricting purchases to fuel alone prevents drivers from buying unauthorized merchandise.
8. Pay-at-Pump Only
When drivers must pay at the fuel island, they can’t add on unauthorized purchases.
This article is a condensed version of “How to Ensure Secure Fuel Card Transactions.”