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Fuel Card Security: Identifying 4 Common Scam Indicators

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As freight carriers navigate a continuously uncertain market, opportunistic criminals have seized the chance to exploit vulnerabilities. This is resulting in a surge of fraudulent activities like fuel card fraud. This trend is particularly troubling for small carriers operating on tight budgets that can’t afford to have their funds tied up or depleted by scammers.

Brent Hutto, chief relationship officer at Truckstop, recently discussed fuel card fraud’s consequences for carriers and steps to protect yourself from falling victim to these schemes.

Listen to the complete podcast on Landline Now.

Fuel Card Scams Affecting Carriers

Fuel card fraud can have devastating effects on carriers and small fleet owners with limited resources and thin profit margins. It can also lead to potential reputational damage and even business closures.

The following are the most prevalent types of fuel card fraud impacting owner-operators and small fleet owners:

  • Fuel card cloning occurs when a driver’s fuel card is copied and used for unauthorized fuel or gas station purchases. Scammers access card information by hacking personal details online, getting card information from the mail or trash, or obtaining pictures of the cards.
  • Fuel card skimming is not a new tactic, but has significantly increased in reported cases. This scam involves a criminal installing a skimmer on the card reader at the pump to record the information from the magnetic strip. Skimmers may also have spy cameras or use a false front keyboard to capture PIN numbers.
  • Identity theft happens when a driver unknowingly gives information, usually through phishing or smishing scams. This can also happen when personal information is hacked online. These cyber-attacks can result in significant loss and can be difficult to track. They can also extend to personal financial records.
  • Internal fuel card fraud can happen inside an organization, especially if you run a small fleet. Truck drivers who use the company card for personal purchases at the gas station or to fuel their own vehicles can be more challenging to detect.
  • Compromised contactless payment devices happen when scammers drill holes in contactless payment screens, damaging the readers. This forces the consumer to swipe their card where a skimmer has been installed.

Spotting Fuel Card Fraud: 4 Red Flags to Recognize

Bad actors know it’s an opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities in a desperate market. But some signs will alert you to investigate.

  1. Watch for unusual transactions. If purchases on the fuel card statement seem suspicious, are not on the assigned route, or cannot be accounted for, it could be a sign of fuel card fraud.
  2. Flag multiple transactions in a short time. Keep records of every stop you make and how much fuel you purchase. If your account shows more than necessary, that’s a red flag.
  3. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity at the pump. If you notice a card reader that looks damaged or is physically tampered with, trust your gut and move to another. Pay close attention to contactless payment devices and look for any sign of drilled holes that force the use of the card reader. This could be an indicator of a card skimmer. 
  4. Compare your receipts. Verify that receipts for fuel purchases match the amount charged on the fuel card statement and investigate any discrepancies.

Fuel card fraud can be devastating, especially for owner-operators and small fleet owners. By paying attention to unusual transactions, being cautious at the pump, and checking receipts, you can work to safeguard yourself and your business against suspicious behavior.

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