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How to Stop Fuel Theft in Its Tracks

Posted March 6, 2019


Because fuel is such a valuable commodity, it will always be susceptible to fuel theft. What many small businesses don’t know, however, is that they can make the fraud prevention strategies that work for large fleets work for them.

Even if your business runs on only a handful of vehicles, fuel is a major business expense. Developing a fuel theft prevention strategy and making sure all your employees are on the same page will protect your bottom line. And, in the battle against fuel theft, fuel cards with purchasing controls can help stop theft before it occurs. But first, let’s get back to basics.


Where to Begin: Fighting Fuel Theft and Fuel Card Misuse

According to a recent article in Utility Fleet Professional Magazine, to combat fuel theft small business owners and managers should ask the following questions:

  • Are fuel tanks locked and keys secure?
  • Are vehicles parked in safe, secure, well-lit areas?
  • Do employees understand why reducing fuel theft matters?
  • Are employees aware of what constitutes proper fuel card use?
  • Is off-site fueling regularly and comprehensively reviewed?
  • Are consequences for improper fuel card use in place and enforced?
  • Is there adequate visibility into how, when, and by whom fuel cards are being used?
  • Have anti-siphoning devices and/or sensors or monitors been considered/installed where necessary?


Fraud Prevention Solutions from the Experts

Fuel card data and purchasing controls go a long way in helping spot and prevent fuel theft. Regularly monitoring your business’s fuel card accounts will help you spot the kind of anomalies that can point to theft and fraud.

Watch for unusual charges either from a dollar amount or geographic standpoint. For example, if your business vehicles operate only in and around Atlanta and you see a fueling charge in Houston, you have a problem. If your drivers don’t go to certain states or regions, then their purchases should be restricted to only their travel area. Automotive Fleet Magazine recommends the following fraud prevention tips:

  • Require PINs and prompts. “Require drivers to enter a personal identification number PIN and prompt them to enter a unit number or other verification data element before they are able to use the fuel pump.”
  • Regularly monitor fuel card accounts. Fuel card controls only take a second to set up and they are your first line of defense against fuel theft and fuel card fraud. Another example of a fuel card control: If your drivers don’t work on weekends, then fueling on a Saturday or Sunday should not be allowed.
  • Keep an eye on frequency of fill-ups. If a driver stops multiple times in one day in the same state, chances are you have a problem. Stopping this type of fuel theft begins with setting up purchase controls for how much money can be spent per day on fuel. This will protect your business from inadvertently allowing a driver to fill up another motorist’s vehicle in exchange for cash. This type of purchase control can be based on a daily dollar limit or by pre-funding a fuel card.


Educate Employees on the Consequences of Fuel Card Misuse and Fraud

Most employees do the right thing. Nevertheless, it’s important to establish a straightforward fuel card use policy so that your employees know where you draw the line. WEX fuel card solutions allow your employees to fuel at any major gas station with the added layer of security only fuel cards with purchasing controls can provide.

With a WEX Fleet Card for small businesses, driver IDs are entered for every transaction. You will always know who spends what, where, and when. Plus, you can set the purchase limits that work best for your business, such as dollar amount, product time, fueling location, and more. With the right fuel card program combined with employee education, you can stop fuel theft before it occurs.


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