With the Average operational cost of trucking surpassing $2 per mile and swelling fuel cost coming close to a stressful $70,000 per year, think about how tough it would be to look forward to a big paycheck, but then realize it’s basically empty—just a bunch of zeros. When it comes to protecting your money and your identity, it pays to spot the visual signs of skimming and detect the transactional signs of fraud.
In this case, with the rising fuel cost, opting for cost-saving fuel cards makes sense and many owner-operators and fleet owners like you agree. Right?
Although it’s not unusual if you find the ever escalating fuel card fraud and skimming across the United States overwhelming to control. But it’s also not impossible. When it comes to protecting your money and your identity, you need to be extra aware when they feel up your truck.
You work hard, cover miles on-the-road, stay away from your family and loved ones for weeks. The last thing you never want is your hard-earned money swiped, especially when thousands are taken from your settlements due to fraudulent fuel purchases that can take months to resolve.
When you stay away from your home for a long time, It’s easy to feel lonely sometimes and you connect with friendly faces on-the-road wherever you find one. But with so many truck drivers being victims of fraudulent behavior trust is a tricky thing out on the road, how do you know who you can rely on?
In this blog we have covered the most common types of fuel card fraud as well as what you can do to save your hard-earned money. Before that let’s quickly understand what fuel card fraud is and what are the most common warning signs to watch out for.
What Is Fuel Card Fraud ?
While skimming is not a new phenomenon, its prevalence has spiked recently due to the surge in fuel prices.
But how does it unfold?
Fuel scammers target unsuspecting drivers at the pumps by installing skimming devices. These devices, discreetly attached to the pumps, capture information when you swipe your credit card, debit card, or fleet fuel card with a magnetic strip. The skimmer then stores this data in a local database or nearby computer.
With this stolen information, scammers create replicas by transferring it onto blank cards. Subsequently, they utilize these fraudulent cards to fill up on fuel, often racking up thousands of dollars in unauthorized transactions.
You must be wondering, but there is a gallon limit on my truck fuel card! How much could they really be taking?”
It’s a great question. Fuel card fraud occurs when a purchasing card, intended for driver fuel costs, is exploited. Fraudsters are bolder and more elusive at the pump, with frequent fuel fill-ups, monitoring expenses becomes challenging, often resulting in fuel card fraud.
How You Can Identify Potential Frauds?
Whether you’re a company driver or an independent owner-operator, you might not be aware that this is happening. Unlike other fraud trends in the trucking industry, there are warning signs to be mindful of, especially while analyzing your expenses.
Unusual Transactions : While analyzing your expending pattern, if you find any unusual increase in fuel purchase or other issued checks this could be a red flag.
Card Activity: Same card being used for multiple transactions in a short period of time or card being used in locations distant from your normal routes.
Fuel Type: Fuel type purchased not matching company’s or your truck specification.
Large Purchases: Large fuel purchases not matching your truck mileage or tank capacity.
Odd Transactions: Transactions occurring outside your normal driving hours or any charges added from odd locations.
As an independent owner-operator, you’ll witness this money being deducted directly from your settlements. If you overlook fraudulent fuel logs, the impact becomes unmistakable when your settlements arrive with significantly less money than anticipated. Depending on the extent of fuel theft, you might even find yourself in the negative
But if you are a company driver make sure you’re advocating for them by monitoring your fuel purchases and notifying your dispatcher if something looks wrong.
How To Spot and Prevent Fuel Card Fraud At Fuel Stations
If the pump you’re using looks fishy—like the card reader is wobbly or it seems bigger than it should be—just pick another pump and give a heads-up to the attendant. Avoid swiping your card at any unnamed fuel pump.
You can also avoid fuel skimming by ‘paying inside’. When you pay inside, there is no risk of skimming devices being installed onto the payment machine.
Additionally, you can check the card reader should have a security tape over the cabinet panel. If the tape looks ripped or broken, avoid using the card reader as it may have been compromised.
Steps To Prevent Fuel Card Fraud
As an American truck driver, protecting your fuel card from fraud is paramount to ensure smooth operations on the road. Here are three crucial strategies tailored just for you:
1. Personalized PIN to Seal Access Against Unauthorized Use:
Opt for a personalized PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your fuel card. This adds an additional layer of security by requiring a unique code for every transaction. Avoid using easily guessable PINs like birthdates or sequential numbers. Choose a combination that is known only to you to enhance the security of your fuel card transactions.
2. Set Spending Limits to Control Expenses:
Take advantage of the spending limit feature offered by many fuel card providers. By setting a specific spending cap, you can control and monitor your expenses effectively.
Analyze your average fuel expenses and establish a realistic limit that aligns with your budget. This proactive approach helps prevent unauthorized transactions beyond your specified limit.
3. Be Mindful of Filling Time Limits:
Keep track of the time limits associated with your fuel card transactions. Some cards may have restrictions on the frequency of use within a specific timeframe.
Understanding and adhering to these time limits can prevent potential fraudulent activities, ensuring that your fuel card is used responsibly and only by authorized individuals.
Implementing these personalized measures will not only safeguard your fuel card but also contribute to a more secure and efficient journey on the American roads. Stay vigilant, and drive with peace of mind!