According to CargoNet, the third quarter of 2020 saw an increase of 23% in cargo theft events in comparison to the third quarter of 2019. The risk of fraud and theft in the non-asset trucking arena requires continuous vigilance, great processes and caution. Capacity is still tight, which creates a situation whereby the desire to secure capacity blurs the processes meant to prevent potential fraud or cargo theft. The issue of fraud and theft is not just a broker issue, it also greatly impacts shippers not meeting customer expectations, lost revenue and time. Being aware that what is happening in the market can prevent potential fraud or theft. As we have learned this year and in years past, no process is perfect.
The latest incident involved a carrier assuming the identity of an approved carrier within our own carrier network. In this case, the carrier that was booked had no idea of the ongoing attempt to steal the load. Our agent was diligent in conducting a check call four hours prior to the same day load picking up. The lack of communication caused the agent to dig deeper and include internal outreach to support validation of the carrier and their past performance with us. As a result, the agent discovered the truck currently booked to pick up the load was not the carrier approved in our system. The email address domain was found to be one character off and the phone number did not match the system profile. The owner of the business did not have any prior knowledge that a rogue carrier had assumed his carrier’s identity. In the end, the outcome was positive with the load rebooked on a qualified and valid carrier.
Preventive Steps for Shippers and Brokers:
- Confirm phone numbers of brokers and carriers using SAFER at https://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov. If the number you were given by the carrier/broker does not match the number posted, call the number posted in SAFER for the company to discuss the load. It is possible the identity of an employee of the business you are contacting has also been stolen.
- If your SAFER search identifies a carrier or broker without a phone number visible, consider not contracting for the work until you can confirm it is a valid transaction.
- When using a search engine to confirm numbers, emails and websites, keep in mind the top search returns may be fake profiles created by the scammers. Do not trust the information unless you can confirm it on multiple sites.
- Document examination is critical. Even insurance certificates can be fraudulent. If you suspect something is not right, research the numbers and call the companies.
- STOP the transaction if:
✓ Your broker asks you to present yourself as a carrier of a different name, or asks your driver to lie about who they work for;
✓ You question the destination of the load and are told it is a “blind load”;
✓ The broker is quick to agree in paying you more; or
✓ The rate far exceeds the current market rate.
- Shippers maintain driver and vehicle logs for all of your pickups. Confirm that the name and numbers on the truck that shows up to load are the same as the one with which you contracted. Recording the tractor and trailer plate information will assist in identifying the actual carrier. Security photos of the truck and trailer are worth a thousand words and can be used to verify information provided on rate confirmations and with your broker. If you have been involved in a fraudulent load, this will be important information for law enforcement.
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