Identity theft is a serious issue not only in our personal lives but also in our professional ones. Fraudulent activity in the freight industry still occurs even though many of us think it can’t happen to us, but unfortunately, these scammers seem to have infiltrated virtually every industry.
We experienced a company posing as a carrier and then rebrokering the load without paying the actual carrier. The carrier who performed the haul then comes looking to get paid and can go after the customer if you don’t take care of them. Since Hawkeye acts as the customer’s advocate, we of course take care of the additional charge to safeguard the shipper. As a result, we have careful vendor screening and in-depth processes to prevent this activity from happening again.
Many people may not realize at first, but the effects of identity theft and fraud go beyond the obvious financial ones. If you have been victimized, that means that someone is out there misrepresenting you and your company. The thought alone can be very unsettling, not to mention the potential ramifications to your company’s reputation, which, if not dealt with immediately, can be irreparable.
There are a few things you can do to help safeguard yourself and your company against fraudulent activity:
- Know who you are doing business with. If you take a load from any shipper, broker, freight forwarder, or whoever, you must take the proper action to make sure the person you are dealing with is legitimate. A good place to start is by attaining a copy of the broker’s authority and make sure the authority type is licensed and that the date on the authority matches the date on the FMCSA’s website. Also, be sure to get a copy of the broker’s bond, make sure the bond is enough to cover the shipment, and verify that the bond is currently active.
- Run credit checks and check contact information. You should always make sure the phone number the broker is using is the same phone number that is listed on the FMCSA website. If you find that it is not the same phone number, you should contact the number actually listed on the FMCSA website and make sure you are working with a legitimate division of the company. Sometimes, transportation providers work through agent or satellite offices, but don’t worry, the main office listed online will always be able to confirm whether the information is valid or not.
- Be careful with your information. Always verify who you are doing business with before you send out your information. The information on your authority and insurance is the easiest way that someone can steal your identity. The more you know about a person or company you’re planning to work with before you share your company information, the better able you are to protect yourself. You should also avoid requesting a broker to send confirmations to truckstops. Truckstops are high traffic areas with a lot of people milling around, it would be very easy for someone to pick up your paperwork.
- Report any fraudulent event. Some companies are tentative to divulge information about their experiences due to the concern that these fraudulent attacks will reflect negatively on their company. Despite this concern, it is imperative to take the necessary precautions to prevent identity theft and fraud in the first place! Carriers and brokers need to be willing to openly share information if they want to help prevent further fraudulence in the freight industry. If you have been victimized, report the incident to your local police department as soon as possible. Also, be sure to contact all load boards that you are signed up with. They will need to flag your account so that any broker or shipper will know that they need to investigate further if they are contacted by you or someone misrepresenting you. You may find this unpleasant, but it is necessary in order to start getting the situation under control.
Above and beyond being careful with your information, you should be careful of who you work with. Only reputable brokers use TIA’s carrier qualification process. Ratings, insurance, MC number, years in business, number of trucks, and background checks are standard procedure done to protect all parties involved in a transaction.
You can rest a little easier when you work with Hawkeye. We take pride in being a legitimate and licensed broker with strong controls in place for vetting carriers, ensuring their legitimacy, and protecting cargo security. When you work with Hawkeye, you have a company working for you as your advocate. CONTACT US to learn more about how we can help you today.