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June 14, 2024


Fuel Fraud Security Tips for Trucking Companies

Patricia Waguespack, Director of Marketing - Multi Service Fuel Card

The price of diesel has been on the decline in May, but it is still well above pre-pandemic norms. The substantial value of diesel relative to 2021 has led to an alarming increase in fuel card fraud. For trucking companies that are already operating on narrow profit margins, fuel fraud can be a devastating financial blow.


Caption: US Retail Diesel Price (I:USRDP)

Fuel Cards as a Baseline Preventative Measure

The use of a fuel card versus cash or credit card to pay for fuel provides transparency into purchases that can help a fleet control costs and monitor fraudulent activity. One of the original value propositions of fuel cards when they were established in the 1970s was safety.  Previously, drivers would carry cash to pay for fuel, making them an easy target for bad actors, but what fuel cards also provided was visibility to purchases being made over the road – where, when, and how frequently. Fleet managers now had the ability to see if charges were processed well off their drivers’ routes, fuel ups are happening more frequently than expected on the same unit, or if multiple charges came in from the same stop in a short period of time. These are a red flag for card skimming, fuel siphoning, or fuel consumption fraud.

But can’t a fleet manager get the same type of monitoring from a credit card?  Yes and No.  Most credit cards will provide what is called Level I transaction data: The merchant selling product, the date / time of the purchase and the purchase total.  Without individual receipts, a base-level credit card will not provide the details of what or how much was purchased. Fuel cards can collect additional details on the transaction such as the vehicle's unit number and a unique PIN number for the purchaser, which offer higher insight to monitor for potential fraud situations.

User-Enabled Enhanced Security of a Fuel Card

The differences between a fuel card vs. a credit card expand dramatically as you dive into the features and functionality of fuel cards designed specifically with fleet management and reporting in mind. All fuel card providers feature security prompts that can make fraud very difficult to occur. There are usually multiple options (PIN, odometer, unit pool etc.) that can be implemented to help fight against fraud. 

Other purchase controls such as defined fuel types, gallon or purchase value caps can also mitigate fraud opportunities, but because each fleet operation is unique, it is up to the fleet’s fuel card administrator to define these parameters and make sure they are optimized to make the fueling process as easy as possible on drivers over the road while appropriately protecting the company against fraud.

The Driver’s Front-Line Role in Preventing Fraud

Utilizing cardless technology where possible and, where not, being extra vigilant to assess their surroundings can be paramount to preventing fraud. Multi Service Fuel Card, the processor for the PacFuel Fuel Card has pulled together 7 security tips for drivers to keep top of mind at the pump.

The Fuel Card Company’s Role in Mitigating Fraud

Beyond the built-in transparency and purchase control capabilities available within fuel card platforms, fuel card companies are also capable of taking a higher-level view of purchase trends within a customer’s account and across their entire portfolio to flag suspicious activity.  With the rise in fraud and advent of AI, fuel card processors have implemented algorithms that can detect suspicious activity at the time of authorization and notify a customer prior to the transaction ever being billed. In 2023 alone, customer-reported fraud claims to Multi Service Fuel Card dropped by 40% with the implementation of new fraud monitoring tools.

Who is Responsible for Fraud on Your Account?

This is tricky to answer as there are a lot of moving parts associated with where fuel card fraud responsibility ultimately resides. Truck stops have a responsibility to do their best to ensure pumps are uncompromised with skimming devices and provide a safe and secure fueling environment. Fuel card providers need to provide a platform that allows for dynamic prompts to be utilized that can stop fraud in its tracks, even with a compromised fuel pump, as well as establishing algorithms that pick up on suspicious fueling behavior that prompts the fuel card platform to shut down the compromised account. Fleet customers need to ensure they are utilizing dynamic prompts with their account, making fraud more difficult for bad actors.

If a truck stop had a skimmed pump, but a fleet customer didn’t have security controls enabled, there’s culpability by both parties. It’s generally very easy to see where fraudulent transactions took place based on purchase data, but there’s a gray area around where the actual skimming incident occurred. A fuel card could have been skimmed at one truck stop, with the fraud happening at a different truck stop entirely. In this instance, who is ultimately responsible? The truck stop that permitted the skimming? The fleet that didn’t have security controls enabled? The fuel card that authorized the transactions? Each incident of fuel fraud is examined case by case with each party doing its part to identify how to arrive at a favorable outcome for all involved, but it’s often a frustrating process that isn’t cut and dry.

Control the Controllables

Ultimately, bad actors will continue to innovate and find ways to take advantage of vulnerabilities in what is a dynamic, multi-party operation. Therefore, the best advice to mitigate fraud is to control what you can control. Implement a fuel card program. Ask your processor about their fraud policies and fraud prevention processes. Make sure you understand the security tools available within your fuel card system and implement them appropriately for your fleet. Train your drivers on your fuel purchase policies and what to watch for at the fuel pump. Monitor your transactions, review your billing statements, and stay diligent.

To learn more about PacFuel and how it can help your fleet with fuel management visit

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Tags: Analytics | Fleet Management

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