What is fuel card fraud?
Fuel card fraud is on the rise, with an increasing amount of cases being seen in toll, tunnel and bridge-related fraud. It is important to understand the different ways that fuel card fraud can occur and implement preventative measures in order to protect your business. According to research by Shell, tackling fuel fraud could lead to more than 5% fuel cost savings for a business, highlighting the necessity to resolve this issue.
The majority of fraud cases consist of skimming and copy card fraud, where card data is stolen during a point-of-sale transaction via a small device. This allows fraudsters to access the person’s name and card number which can then be used to create a copied card, often designed to mimic a real, sometimes expired, fuel card. As a result, businesses can lose thousands of pounds, especially if this criminal activity goes undetected for an extended period.
Another tactic used by fraudsters is ‘shoulder surfing’ which HGV drivers, in particular, should be aware of. In this scenario, criminals will watch as a user enters their pin or will even break into a parked vehicle to copy card data. HGV drivers will sometimes leave notes with their pin and card details inside their vehicles, making them susceptible to this kind of fraud.
Is this a big issue in the UK?
As fuel cards are becoming increasingly popular in the UK so too are incidents of fraud, with cases rising every year. The development of cashless payments provides the opportunity for fraudsters to infiltrate the security of cards and so it’s important to always remain vigilant when making a purchase with a fuel card.
Shell has reported that fuel card fraud is also being experienced during the delivery of fuel cards. 25% of fleet managers have claimed that fuel card details get stolen in the post whilst on the way to the customer. This is a big issue in the UK as businesses are being defrauded before they even receive their fuel card. Furthermore, this form of criminal activity could easily go undetected as the security of the cards has been unknowingly compromised.
How to prevent your business from suffering from fraud
“Fighting fuel card fraud requires the collaboration of all parties, be it the driver checking the card reader for signs of tampering or spotting people acting suspiciously on the fuel station; site staff ensuring that fuel is only dispensed to the vehicle linked to the card being used; fuel retailers ensuring that they have video surveillance and online validation of transactions; fleet managers checking their invoices for unexpected purchases while ensuring that their drivers are keeping their cards and PINs secure at all times; fuel card issuers ensuring that they have the correct prevention measures in place and are working together and with law enforcement to share intelligence and stay one step ahead of the fraudsters and cooperating in the investigation of criminal activity when it occurs.” David Jones, Head of Payment Security Edenred Fleet & Mobility EMEA.
Businesses need to take action to ensure that they do not become victims of fraud. Effective collaboration between fleet operators and fuel card providers is key to identifying any misuse of fuel cards. Fleet managers should check all invoices and receipts promptly to ensure that all transactions are legitimate. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately to prevent your business from suffering from fraud.
Telematics can help to monitor employees’ fuel card usage, allowing businesses to check whether the location and time of every fuel card transaction matches that of the vehicle. Additionally, telematics allow fleet managers to monitor the cost of fuel purchases for each vehicle which will help them to identify instances of fraud. Introducing controls on where fuel cards can be used and limiting the value that can be spent on them would also be beneficial for businesses. These boundaries will restrict the level of criminal activity that can be carried out by fraudsters.
Drivers must ensure that they stay vigilant to ensure that their fuel card and PIN remains secure. They should never leave their card unattended in the cab of their vehicle or on company premises to prevent it from being copied unknowingly. It is also important that drivers never write down their PIN and they should shield their PIN when entering it.
It is essential that both fleet managers and drivers are aware of how fuel card fraud can affect the business and how to prevent it. Any suspicious transactions should be reported immediately, and card users should always check the pump for signs of tampering. Although fuel card fraud is on the rise, if businesses monitor fuel card activity then this can easily be prevented.
For further information on fuel card fraud across Europe, we recommend ‘Mind the Trap’, produced by our German partner UTA.
David JamesDavid has worked in the fuel card industry since 2008. His financial insights have been featured in various publications, such as The Sun, the Daily Express and The Yorkshire Times where he provides money-saving tips for motorists. David is passionate about charity work and regularly raises money through running events, including the London Marathon and the Leeds Abbey Dash.