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Preventative Measures: Protecting your small business fleet from theft and fraud

February 28, 2024

Small businesses heavily rely on their fleets to deliver goods, provide services, and keep operations running smoothly. However, with the rise of theft and fraud targeting small businesses and individuals, protecting your valuable assets has become more important than ever. Let’s explore the various preventive measures small businesses can take to safeguard their fleets from harm.

Understanding the risks associated with fleet card misuse and fraud

First, you should understand how vulnerable your fleet is to both internal and external theft. Identifying fuel theft or fraud can be tricky so be aware of the ways your fleet can be impacted. 

Small business fleets face a range of threats, including vehicle theft, fuel theft, identity theft, cargo theft, and even employee misuse. These crimes can result in significant financial losses and disrupt day-to-day business operations. 

In fact, a recent Motive report showed that about 44% of the fleet managers and directors surveyed, felt that fraud has negatively affected their business, and about 57% of C-level executives felt that it has had a large impact financially.

Fleet cards, while convenient for managing fuel and maintenance expenses, can also be vulnerable to misuse and fraudulent activity. Employees may misuse cards for personal purchases or unauthorized fuel transactions, and fraudulent activities, such as card skimming or unauthorized access to card information, can pose a significant threat. By proactively educating your employees on proper card usage and regularly checking transactions, small businesses can mitigate these risks and ensure their fleet management process stays secure.

Recognize fraud vulnerability in your small business

Before implementing preventative measures, small business owners should assess their fleet’s vulnerabilities and get a complete understanding of where there may be opportunities. 

This involves a comprehensive audit of all activities, evaluating current security measures, identifying weak points in the fleet management process, and recognizing signs of potential security breaches. By understanding where fleets are most vulnerable, businesses can develop targeted strategies to enhance security.

Three common weaknesses for fleets include:

  • Lack of control over fleet card usage: Without proper oversight, employees may have access to fleet cards they don’t need or may use them for their personal vehicles. Additionally, if cards are not quickly deactivated when employees leave the company or change roles, they could be at risk for further misuse.
  • Inadequate monitoring and reconciliation of fuel transactions: Without regular reviews of fuel purchases, it becomes easier for discrepancies and unauthorized fuel theft to go unnoticed. Moreover, if fuel receipts are not consistently collected and cross-referenced with card statements, it can be challenging to detect fraudulent activity.
  • Outdated or ineffective security measures: It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest security tools to stay protected. As technology progresses, so do fraud and theft. For instance, if your fleet cards lack chip technology or if you’re not using secure payment terminals at fuel stations, you increase the risk of card skimming and data breaches.

There are several preventative measures small business owners can use to protect their fleets 

Implement tools and processes to combat security weaknesses. Here are some recommended steps for reinforcing fleet security:

  • Provide comprehensive training to employees on fleet card usage policies and consequences for misuse.
  • Use physical security measures such as GPS tracking devices, alarm systems, dash cams, and steering wheel locks, which can deter theft and aid in the recovery of stolen vehicles. 
  • Use technology solutions like telematic systems, electronics loading devices (ELDs), and fleet management software to monitor your fleets in real time and detect suspicious activity.
  • Regularly review and reconcile fuel transactions.
  • Quickly deactivate cards for employees who no longer require them.

By taking proactive steps to assess and address weaknesses in security, you can better protect your small business against fleet card fraud, employee fuel theft, and other risks associated with your business. 

Foster a culture of security and accountability

Trust and safety is essential for long-term fleet protection. Start by clearly communicating your company’s security policies and expectations to all employees. Emphasize the importance of their role in maintaining a secure environment and provide comprehensive training on security best practices. Your employees should know how to identify and report suspicious activities, how to properly handle sensitive information, and the consequences of security breaches.

Encourage open communication and transparency regarding security concerns. Employees should feel open to report any security incidents or potential vulnerabilities without fear of punishment, so establish communication channels – anonymous surveys are one great way to allow employees to chime in. Actively listen to their feedback and address any issues promptly, demonstrating your commitment to prioritizing security within the business.

Lastly, lead by example by consistently showing compliance to security protocols and holding yourself and other leaders accountable. And incentivize good behavior by recognizing and rewarding the employees who go above and beyond to maintain security.

Learn from Hammer Construction on how WEX supports small businesses in protecting their fleets 

Starting in 2015, Hammer Construction was facing several fleet management challenges including fuel theft and expense tracking. With a fleet of vehicles scattered across hundreds of miles and employees remaining off site for several weeks at a time, managing expenses became difficult. They noticed a trend of fuel theft among their employees resulting in a loss of $500 to $700 a month. A solution was needed to enhance employee accountability and gain insights into their fleet expenses.  

With the help of WEX ClearView, Hammer Construction has been able to quickly identify trends and patterns, monitor purchasing behavior, and implement corrective actions to improve fleet operations. The user-friendly nature of ClearView has helped fleet managers understand complex data, allowing them to make the most informed decisions.

Through the ClearView dashboard Steve Doss, Hammer Construction’s Cost Control Manager, can easily examine the use of fleet cards in any regions, department, service station, or even by employee or vehicle. That level of visibility and control has allowed them to not only improve fleet card efficiency and expenses, but also transformed their employee mentality regarding proper fleet card use and accountability. 

“ClearView gives us the ability to quickly identify trends and patterns and eliminate the extra risk of theft. Driver mentality has changed from, ‘They will never miss a few gallons here or there.’ or, ‘That’s just one of the perks of the job.’ to, ‘I better not steal any fuel because (Johnny) was terminated for using the fuel card for his personal vehicle.’” — Steve Doss, Cost Control Manager

Hammer Construction experienced tangible benefits through WEX ClearView. Along with increased fleet card protection, they were able to access insights that gave them a clearer picture of their business and ultimately, achieve sustainable growth.

Explore which tools can best support your fleet:

  • ClearView Snap – Keep it simple with quick and easy insights delivered directly to your inbox.
  • ClearView Essentials – Access simple analytics to help you easily identify opportunities and inconsistencies.
  • ClearView Advanced – Including all the perks of Snap and Essentials, you can access powerful reporting and analytics tools to help turn insights into actions.

Protecting small business fleets from theft and fraud requires a combination of proactive measures, technological solutions, and employee training. By understanding the risks, assessing weaknesses, implementing preventative measures, and building a culture of security, small businesses can safeguard their fleets and minimize the risk of financial losses and operational disruptions due to theft and fraud. 

Taking actions to protect your fleet is essential for the long-term success and sustainability of your small business in today’s challenging business environment. 

Learn more on how to better manage your small business:

WEX speaks the language of small business operators. Whether you’re looking to modernize your insight and reporting efforts, save on fuel costs or take advantage of the latest GPS tracking technologies, WEX offers solutions to simplify the business of running a business. To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

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