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Three ways to identify fuel theft

January 5, 2024

If vehicles are a part of your business, fuel costs likely make up a big portion of your overall expenses. It’s also a place where theft often occurs.

Fuel theft isn’t just about siphoning fuel from a vehicle (although that certainly happens). It extends to instances where employees misuse the company gas card or drive company vehicles for personal use, contributing to the challenge of reducing fleet fuel costs

WEX provides different tools to help you identify behaviors that could indicate fuel theft, so you can take action. Let’s start at the first level of protection—your fleet fuel card. 

1. Fleet cards provide greater visibility into expenses

Employees using a WEX Fleet Card are required to enter an ID number at the pump before a fuel purchase is authorized. They’re also prompted to enter the vehicle’s current odometer reading. This base level of input is beyond the security provided by an ordinary credit card.

These data points—also known as Level 3 data—give you greater visibility into your fuel expenses. You know who buys the fuel. You know how far they’ve driven since their last fill-up. You know what type of fuel they purchase. This makes it easier to spot spending anomalies that could indicate theft. For example, two fill-ups in a single day or multiple fill-ups that don’t match the distance driven could indicate something is wrong.

WEX Fleet Cards also enable business owners and fleet managers to enforce company spending policies, by placing limits on employee purchasing. These controls include hours of the day, days of the week, dollars per day or week, dollars per transaction, and types of product. This way, a lot of potential misuse is stopped at the pump.

2. GPS vehicle tracking for your commercial fleet helps prevent theft

GPS vehicle tracking is becoming more common, which allows managers to know where their vehicles are at all times. WEX Telematics helps prevent fraud by enabling you to track when and where vehicles are in use. For example, if GPS says a vehicle is at location A, but the fleet card is being used at location B, there could be a problem. You can also be notified when vehicles are used during off-hours. This information goes a long way to identifying fuel theft when and where it happens.

“It’s the combination of card data and telematics readings,” said Paul Bunn, Treasurer and Chief Accounting Officer for Covenant Transportation Group, Inc. “That data, when reported and acted on effectively, acts as an alert to show us anything out of the ordinary.”

3. Advanced analytics finds theft when it occurs

Analytics takes your fuel expense management to the next level. A product like WEX ClearView combines your company fleet card data with other data—like miles driven, time and date of purchase, and fuel grade—and identifies any anomalies. If they’re found, you’re notified to investigate further. This takes the lengthy bookkeeping process out of your hands, so you can spend more time on other areas of the business.

“The beauty of the program is the exception reporting,” said Ed Finnegan, Office of Fleet Management, State of Georgia. “We don’t have to look for wrongdoers. With two clicks, the information is right in front of us.”

Whether it’s outright theft or user error, purchases that fall outside your business policies can add a significant burden to your bottom line. By combining fleet card data with analytics and premium GPS tracking, WEX provides several ways to help you reduce the impact of fuel theft.

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.

Apply for a fleet card today!

Editorial note: This article was originally published on March 4, 2020, and has been updated for this publication.

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