ATLANTA --- With wildly fluctuating gas prices and an unstable economy, the temptation for thieves to steal or take advantage of company fuel cards is at an all-time high, according to industry expert FleetCards USA.

Take for example the recent case where the Raleigh police in North Carolina charged a person with peddling cheap fill-ups at area stations with stolen fuel cards. More than 300 people took advantage of the illicit gas business, police told the Raleigh News & Observer. The suspects allegedly used the stolen fleet gas cards to fill up vehicles for $20 each.

Another recent example was reported in Lewisboro, N.Y.'s local paper, the Lewisboro Ledger. A Lewisboro town highway department employee was arrested for identity theft after allegedly using other employees' personal information to steal gasoline from high school fuel pumps.

In this time of economic uncertainty, what can companies do to protect themselves from such fraud?

Investing in a comprehensive fleet fuel card is one way business owners can prevent such theft, according to FleetCards USA. Unlike a gas card or a credit card or even cash, fleet cards allow fleet managers to set internal controls, such as how much fuel can be purchased per vehicle, per day or even by mileage. If a user tries to exceed this volume, the card is shut off.

Comprehensive fleet cards require users to input a unique PIN in order to access funds. If the fleet gas card is stolen by an outsider, without knowing the unique PIN number, the card is useless," explained Mike Noles, president of FleetCards USA. The company's expertise is matching fleet cards to small- and medium-sized businesses.

"Fleet fuel card programs can also instantly alert management of irregular or suspicious fueling activity so action can be taken immediately to cancel the card," Noles added.

For more information on the benefits of fleet cards and available card options, visit