Cargo thefts continue to rise and while the vast majority involve a stationary or unattended truck, fictitious pick-ups and impersonating a legitimate motor carrier or broker continues to occur. Thefts involving the impersonation of a motor carrier typically begin with a broker listing a load on an internet board. A seemingly legitimate motor carrier responds, but in reality, it is a thief that is impersonating a legitimate motor carrier.This impersonation can start with the thief pulling a legitimate motor carrier’s information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. This includes an authentic address, insurance information, and MC and DOT numbers. Thieves provide this to the broker along with what appears to be a valid certificate of insurance, W-9, and even a signed brokerage agreement. However, what the broker may not catch when it tries to verify this information is that the phone number provided is different than what was provided on the FMCSA website, and the certificate of insurance is usually bogus. The broker then provides all the information for pick-up and delivery, and after the thief picks up the load, he/she is never heard from again. Most recently, some thieves have even been able to change the motor carrier’s contact information on the FMCSA website and Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) pages, which are troubling. An indication of a change of information can be a recent filing date of the carrier’s MCS-150 on the “Company Snapshot” screen on the SAFER website.
So what can you do to try and protect yourself from becoming a victim of cargo theft?
Below are some suggestions if you are a broker:
• Verify the motor carrier. Check the FMCSA website and compare the motor carrier’s information to that which was provided—especially the phone number. Call the number listed on the FMCSA website to verify the carrier is legitimate.
• If you accept certificates of insurance from the insurance agent, call the insurance provider to verify the information. Do not accept certificates of insurance from the trucker.
• Do an internet search for both the insurance agent and carrier to verify they are legitimate.
• Do not engage in double-brokering.
• Broker high-value loads to carriers you have verified, worked with, and trust—not a new carrier that you have never worked with.
• Screen and train employees on cargo theft exposures.
• Ensure that you have good contracts.
• If you see a recent MCS-150 filing date on the FMCSA or SAFER websites, be cautious. This may be an indication that a thief has changed the legitimate carrier’s contact information.
• Routinely check your information on the FMCSA or SAFER websites to ensure it is correct.