Motor Carrier Identity Theft: A Growing Problem

New-Scam-finger-printTHERE’S A NEW SCAM IN TOWN – carrier identity theft – and it’s a growing threat to the transportation and supply chain industry. But with industry partners and law enforcement, Canal’s Special Investigation Unit is working to stop it. Our special weapon? Education.

THE SCAM: Cargo thieves simply pose as a legitimate trucking company and contract to pick up and deliver a load – usually through a broker or from a load-board – and then disappear with the goods. Other times, the thieves’ intent is not to steal cargo, but to cash a fuel advance or ComCheck. Thieves start by submitting phony paperwork to brokers, including bogus W-9s, certificates of insurance, and signed carrier agreements. Most often, they alter the contact phone number, fax number and email address of the real trucking company so they can reply directly to communications. Never suspecting anything is wrong, companies turn loads over and don’t realize a heist has occurred until a shipper calls the legitimate trucking company to ask, “Where’s my delivery?”

A variation on the scam is coined the “fictitious pickup.” This fraud occurs when cargo thieves, posing as the real trucking company or broker, contact the shipper to say they are in the area ahead of schedule and would like to make an early pickup. The con artists appear legitimate with their false license plates, fraudulent identification and counterfeit truck signs and placards.

Counter Intelligence Scam protection begins with improved security protocols. For shippers, brokers, trucking companies, motor carriers, fleets and owner operators, this includes enhanced vetting procedures. Trucking companies should deal with trusted brokers and shippers whenever possible. Independent confirmation of authorized contact names and phone numbers reduces the likelihood of improper contract or false pickups. Be particularly vigilant when using a new carrier, particularly those with a brand new author¬ity (MC numbers beginning with 7). Also, motor carriers should not share their FMCSA PIN numbers with third parties and should always keep their MCS-150 and contact information up to date.

Recent Victims In one recent month, three Canal policyholders were victims of identity theft scams. The brokers thought they had contracted with the real trucking companies, but when deliveries failed to arrive and they took a closer look at the paperwork, they realized they had been conned. Canal’s investigators worked with the policyholders to help clear their names, advised them to file identity theft reports, and made suggestions for enhanced security measures.

If you ever feel you’ve been scammed, file a direct report with both Canal and the local police immediately. And by all means, have verification procedures in place now to trap scammers. After all, every scam requires an unwitting target – make sure the next one isn’t you.