It happens more often than you think. A trucker pulls up to the dock to pick up a load only to be told that the load has already been picked up. Somehow, you’ve already been there. But how?
This so-called “fictitious pickup” represents a whole new wave of crime activity targeting both truckers and the supply chain – albeit if indirectly.
The Fictitious Pickup
As a matter of fact, the problem has become so widespread that the trucker think tank CargoNet issued a white paper in 2013 saying fictitious pickups are quickly becoming a significant share of all thefts reported to the firm in 2011. By 2012 the number had increased again by a further 8 percent.
Of course, “straight theft” – or, the act of simply hitching to a loaded trailer and either leaving an empty or just driving off with the full freight – still remains the loss leader when it comes to cargo theft.
Yet, year after year, so-called “strategic thefts” are grabbing a bigger slice of the freight theft pie. Today, fictitious pickups account for a full 10 percent of all cargo thefts nationwide, of which the vast majority originate out of networks based in places like Chicago and Southern California.
One thing that makes these types of theft different is the virtual component. The fact is this: No matter where your trailer is, it’s likely thieves can track it. Gone are the days where the bad guy has to randomly pick out a trailer and hope for the best. Now they know what load they want and how to get it.
The problem with fictitious pickups has expanded right alongside online freight brokering. Thanks to the internet, it is increasingly easier to set up a fictitious company and create high-quality drivers licenses that look like the real deal.
The final factor influencing the efficiency of thieves lies on our increasing reliance on speed and timeliness in getting the load from Point A to Point B. When you sacrifice due diligence for more speed, you open up the door for criminals to step into the void.
Another factor shaping this form of cargo theft is the advancement of computers and software. Thieves now have a number of different tools and methods giving them insider access and real-time updates on where trailers are going, from start to finish.
What is Carrier Identity Theft?
Carrier identity theft can be identified by:
- A trucker showing up at the dock impersonating a legitimate motor carrier, complete with the proper paperwork and terminology.
- The false trucker secures the load.
- They leave.
Beyond merely forging the paperwork, scam artists find new techniques by the day, whether by posing as carriers or broker themselves or claiming old but still active authorities, depending on the situation.
In other cases, the identity thief may be the guy or gal you’re hiring. You’ve got to ensure your HR practices are rock solid and ready to weed out any candidates that could represent a threat to your operation.
So, what’s a business to do if they want to protect themselves from scams like these?
What You Can Do
Fleets are increasingly turning novel and innovative ways of dealing with the problem, whether it be through hidden cameras and GPS tracking units or hidden microphones and “sting trailers.”
You can also:
- Extend your first route from the origin point to try and avoid making stops.
- If you see someone following you, try to avoid them or even put a call in to home base.
- Make sure you double- and even triple-check the identities of company reps calling you on the phone.
Also ensure your carrier identity is protected by consistently logging into your DOT carrier profile to ensure the information is always up-to-date. The keys to your kingdom lie in your contact information. Take steps to keep it safe in this brave new world of hi-tech thieving.