Fuel card fraud is rampant in 2023 — Here are seven ways truckers can fight back
Rising diesel prices over the past few years have caused cases of fuel card fraud to rise in an alarming fashion. For trucking companies often operating on the narrowest of margins of profit, fuel card fraud can come as an unexpected and devastating financial blow.
As an owner operator or fleet owner, it’s your responsibility to take every step possible to protect your business from damaging fuel card fraud. CDLLife recently connected with the team at Overland Park, Kansas-headquartered Multi Service Fuel Card to get easy, straightforward tips on how truck drivers and fleet owners can protect themselves when every penny counts.
Seven Smart Security Tips For Fuel Card Customers
- Utilize your card-provided security features! 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 that help fight against fraud. The scary thing is, there are some fleet owners that remove these security features to make it easier on their drivers when they fuel, creating a nightmare scenario for fraud to occur. Using the security prompts and making sure your drivers understand the importance of hiding their PINs when they enter them would go a long way in helping combat fraud.
- Don’t swipe if you don’t have to. Card skimmers — illegal devices attached to fuel pumps that can steal data — can’t access your card’s information if you don’t physically swipe. Instead, the Multi Service Fuel team recommends that drivers use a mobile app to pay for fuel. Major truck stop chains including Love’s, Pilot, and TravelCenters of America all offer mobile apps that can be used to pay for fuel more safely where you can link your Multi Service Fuel Card. Drivers can also opt to pay for fuel inside the store for more security.
- Be aware of telltale signs of skimmers. Drivers should look for signs of tampering on the fuel pump that might indicate the presence of a card skimmer. These signs could include broken security seals and card slots that feel loose or look different from those on the other pumps at the truck stop. Just like a pre-trip inspection, drivers should get accustomed to performing a pre-fuel inspection on the pump they’re about to utilize.
- Choose the fuel pump closest to the store. These are less likely to be tampered with because scammers know that truck stop workers are more likely to spot them.
- Be on the lookout for cameras. Scammers are increasingly turning to small or hidden camera technology to steal PINs and other information without your knowledge.
- Use extra caution in high risk locations. Fuel card fraud is higher in certain geographical locations — the Multi Service Fuel Card team named South Central Texas, Southern California and Southern Florida as hot spots for fraud right now. Drivers fueling in these higher risk areas should be aware of the danger and ready to take extra steps to secure their transactions.
- Stay vigilant. Many fleet owners or owner-operators are working long hours and forget to monitor financial statements that could alert them to costly fuel card fraud. Make a point of closely monitoring your bills and consider setting up push notifications to help you say on top of any usual charges.
Who Is Responsible If You Fall Victim To Fuel Card Fraud?
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 as cut and dry.
Choose A Fuel Card Provider Who Is As Passionate About Security As You Are
As a fuel card customer, it’s also your responsibility to choose a fuel card provider that will work with you to prevent fraud. Make a point to inquire with your fuel card provider to learn more about what customer protections they offer. Look for fuel card companies that offer you the use of free security tools like purchase limit controls and geo-checks and also provide monitoring services on their end. Fuel card customers who combine a proactive approach to protecting their accounts while working with a company that provides rigorous security protections stand the best chance of avoiding costly fraudulent charges.
“Fraudsters employing card skimmers are looking for easy money. Practicing good security habits makes you a less desirable target to the fraudster. Simple measures like covering your hand when entering your PIN or using secure payment methods, such as an app, can impede the would-be thief’s ability to collect the information needed to compromise your card. Prioritizing good security habits can also help protect your personal safety, criminals tend to target individuals who appear to be distracted while fueling,” said Ralph Shepard, Director of Operations for Multi Service Fuel Card.
Founded in 1978 by an OTR truck driver, Multi Service Fuel Card has provided the trucking community with fuel card services and financial solutions along with industry-leading customer service for decades. If you’re an owner-operator or a small, medium, or large fleet in need of a partner to help secure your fleet’s fuel spending, the Multi Service Fuel Card team is on hand to help now— just click here to connect.