The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is once again advising carriers to be on alert for a new fraud scheme making its way through the trucking industry.
Like previous rounds of fraud, the scheme comes in the form of a bogus letter which attempts to get banking, financial and operational information from companies. The letter, which follows a similar template that the DOT has issued dozens of warnings about over the last few years — claims to have been sent on behalf of ‘Equifax,’ a credit reporting agency. The latest letters are signed by a“Thad Brown.”
FMCSA is redistributing a memo it circulated in 2013 as a reminder to carrier service providers and third-party administrators on dealing with fraudulent marketing campaigns.
“The use of a private entity or company to assist a motor carrier with compliance is certainly an option for motor carrier officials and new entrant applicants. However, the use of a service provider is NOT required by FMCSA. The U.S. government does not endorse private businesses,” the memo states.
According to the FMCSA memo, commonly encountered marketing techniques that are confusing or misleading include the following schemes:
- A caller or written solicitation has a name very similar to USDOT/FMCSA but is not, in fact, a U.S. government agency.
- A caller conveys urgency for a carrier to provide credit card or other payment information immediately by telephone or suffer immediate consequence. FMCSA officials and representatives do not ask for credit card numbers by telephone.
- A caller or solicitation states they are “endorsed” by FMCSA. U.S. government agencies do not endorse any businesses or third-party service providers. Motor carrier third-party service providers often provide valuable services but are NOT required by FMCSA. FMCSA provides support free of charge.
- Vague responses from a caller when asked if they are an employee or authorized representative of FMCSA.
The memo also states to beware of any correspondence suggesting or demanding payments via PayPal, which the FMCSA does not use.
Fraudulent letters are also being used more often to commit cargo crime. Fictitious pickups involve goods pilfered using fake identifications and sham businesses set up to divert and steal cargo.
Fraudulent pickups are typically defined as the taking of funds instead of cargo; an example would be the theft of cash advances used for such essential expenditures as diesel fuel. Both are fraud and are becoming more commonplace, states the article.