FMCSA is warning movers about what it calls "a new phenomenon for the enforcement community," business identity theft, in which criminals try to assume the online and/or regulatory identity of a legitimate carrier. Forms of this crime that could impact movers, according to FMCSA, include:
Hijacking a company's website — a subtle change in the information or mechanics of the website which diverts consumers to the rogue's site or e-mail;
Someone using the USDOT number or MC number of another company;
Former employees still using company-marked property issued to them;
Someone taking advantage of decommissioned equipment which still bears the former company's identifiers;
Companies with good reputations and name recognition are especially vulnerable, say officials, as are firms with low five, six or seven digit USDOT numbers, since that indicates a carrier that has been in business for many years.
To combat the problem, FMCSA recommends movers make sure their websites and logos are properly copyrighted and/or trademarked; check websites frequently to ensure they are functioning properly; retrieve all company property from employees who leave; and remove all company markings from vehicles being sold or decommissioned.
Companies which are victimized should file a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.IC3.gov), cancel any credit or debit cards immediately that have had unauthorized use, and seek the advice of your attorney to stop another person or company from identifying themselves using your logos or markings.
The agency is also highlighting aggressive marketing to the industry by companies offering help with a variety of compliance services. FMCSA has received a large number of complaints from carriers about receiving unsolicited and often confusing emails, telephone calls, faxes, texts, or direct mail from aggressive marketers. Some sent inaccurate or misleading DOT requirements, and some marketers or materials were misleading carriers to believe they were dealing with federal officials.
FMCSA stresses that neither it nor DOT require the use of a third-party service provider to assist a carrier with compliance, nor do either endorse such activities. FMCSA does provide free online or telephone compliance assistance to carriers.