Truckstop.com receives daily notifications via email from carriers reporting that they have hauled loads believed to be legitimate, only to later realize they have fallen victim to one of the many rapidly growing stolen identity scams. Suddenly the reality sets in that they are not going to be paid for services rendered. Some are financially stable enough to absorb the cost of hauling an occasional load for free, but many are not.
Below are a few important precautionary measures for carriers to consider and that can help avoid becoming a victim of a complicated identity theft scam. This is not a fix-all for every situation, but rather a guide to assist carriers in making wise decisions when vetting those they choose to haul for.
Use Caution when taking loads from strangers
Avoid jumping into new business relationships without conducting an adequate level of due-diligence. Now more than ever it is important that you have a formal vetting process in place for potential new business partners. Do your homework by researching their payment history and their history with the FMCSA & SAFER. Perform an internet search if you are unsure. Truckstop.com has developed several useful tools to help carriers make good business decisions about the brokers and shippers they haul for. If you are not already a CreditStop subscriber, give us a call to learn more about this “must have” service for carriers. Likewise, CACCI/CPR is the leading carrier vetting tool for brokers and shippers.
Review broker and shipper credit worthiness & performance ratings
While you won’t be asking a broker or shipper for a copy of their most recent tax return, it is important to know their average days-to-pay scores and if there are any performance issues or other patterns of concern. With CreditStop activated on your Truckstop.com account you can review average days-to-pay information and see if there are any outstanding non-payment or performance issues. CreditStop also provides proactive monitoring of the brokers and shippers you use on a routine bases. Carriers should also consider utilizing a reputable non-recourse factoring company to guarantee payment, even when the broker fails to pay the factor.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Carriers should thoroughly scrutinize rates that seem elevated. Look closely at other loads in the same lanes for comparison. Consider utilizing Truckstop.com’s RateMate service for the most accurate, up to date and effective rate comparison tool available in the market today.
Read the small print
Always read all Broker/Carrier Agreements and Rate Confirmations thoroughly. Pay particular attention to any mention of deductions or other verbiage which might prevent you from exercising your right to compensation based on established industry standards. Truck Ordered Not Used and Detention Pay are two common examples. When there are terms in the Agreements that do not meet with your approval, cross them out or modify the terms and initial your changes before signing and returning the contracts.
Driver Hours of Service (HOS) Rules
When contracting to haul a load, make sure you have the time to make the pick-up and delivery on time. Be aware of any special instructions with the load such as extra picks or drops to avoid any delays at loading and unloading. Read through the Bills of Ladings (BOLs) to make sure your name is on them and that you are hauling the correct load. It is never a good idea to assume the dock workers get it right every time. Hauling the wrong load is considered a service failure by the carrier.
Currently the industry standard for detention, unless otherwise stated and agreed upon, is as follows: $62.50 per hour up to 8 hours per day or $500 per day, after the first 2 hours at loading and unloading. For detention time to be enforced it is the carriers responsibility to track and provide documented proof of arrival and wait times by having authorized individuals at the pick-up and delivery facilities sign, or at least initial, date and time-stamped arrivals.
Plan your route
Once loaded, it is important to know the most direct and efficient route to the designated delivery location. Truckstop.com’s FuelDesk product allows you to pre-plan your route and provides valuable information on fuel stops and current fuel prices along the way. Optimizing your route and fuel expenses can significantly improve your profit margins on the loads you haul.
Check Calls & Load Tracking
Most brokers require daily check-calls from carriers to confirm that loads in route are on scheduled. Failure to make required check-calls can result in fees that are deducted from carrier settlements. Carriers should consider Truckstop’s Load Tracking service that includes handheld document exchange, easy document storage, and automatic check calls.
Load Delivery & Payment
Upon delivery of each load, make sure you have all required paperwork in order and that it is immediately provided to the broker of the load to avoid any delays in agreed upon payment terms. It’s a good idea to include your invoice for services rendered with your paperwork. Most brokers will accept copies of the BOLs and other required paperwork, however there are still a small percentage that require the originals. Remember, the clock starts ticking on the agreed upon terms for payment once the broker has received all required paperwork so that he can bill his customer, receive payment and pay you.
Report your days-to-pay experience on every load you haul to Truckstop.com by clicking on the “Report a Broker” tab from our main landing page. Select Days-to-Pay and complete the quick and easy on-line form. Your information will become part of the brokers published credit score calculation and increases the accuracy of the broker credit scores we provide.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding these precautionary measures, we would appreciate hearing from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Assurance Services