Truckstop.com hears reports from carriers all the time that they’ve hauled a load they believed was legitimate, and then realized later they were victim to some sort of scam. When the reality sets in that they aren’t going to get paid for a service they already provided, some are able to absorb the financial cost of hauling an occasional load for free, but many are not.
This list of precautionary measures can help you protect your money and avoid being a victim to freight and trucking scams. This is not a comprehensive list and won’t prevent every potential scam, but it will help in making smart decisions when vetting the brokers you choose to haul for.
Use precautionary measures when accepting loads from strangers.
Avoid jumping into new business relationships without conducting an adequate level of due diligence. With today’s technological advancements, it’s more important than ever that you have an internal vetting process in place for potential new business partners. Do your homework by researching a company before working with them. Try an internet search if you aren’t sure about the broker, and double-check the broker’s company has a website with reviews and references which can help give you some peace of mind. If anything seems fishy, call the number on the company’s website and ask to speak with the broker you’re working with for additional confirmation.
Review broker credit worthiness and performance ratings.
You can’t ask a broker for their most recent tax return, yet it is important to know their average days-to-pay scores, if they have any performance issues, or if there are any other areas of concern. Truckstop.com offers several tools to help carriers make good decisions about the brokers they haul for. For example, Credit Stop lets you view a broker’s days-to-pay information, experience factor, credit score, and risk level so you can feel secure with partners you trust. Having a broker’s average days-to-pay information and seeing if there are any outstanding non-payment or performance issues can help you make an informed decision. Credit Stop also provides proactive monitoring of the brokers you like to work with on a regular bases. You should also consider using a reputable, non-recourse factoring company to guarantee payment – even if the broker fails to pay the factor.
Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Make sure you always thoroughly scrutinize rates that seem elevated. Look closely at other loads in the same lanes for comparison. Consider using tools like Truckstop.com’s Rate Mate for accurate, up-to-date, and effective rate comparisons.
Read the fine print.
Always read Broker/Carrier Agreements and Rate Confirmations in their entirety. Pay particular attention to any mention of deductions and other verbiage which may prevent you from exercising your right to compensation based on established industry standards. “Truck Ordered Not Used” and “Detention Pay” are two common examples. If there are terms in the agreements that don’t meet with your approval, cross them out, modify the terms, and initial your changes before signing and returning the contracts.
Consider the Hours of Service (HOS) Rules.
When contracting to haul a load, make sure you have ample time to make the pick-up and delivery times. If something seems weird about the time being allotted to move a load, there is probably a reason why. Be aware of any special instructions with the load such as extra pick-ups or drop-offs so you avoid any delays during loading and unloading. Read through the Bills of Ladings (BOLs) to make sure your name is on them and that you’re hauling the correct load. It is never a good idea to assume the dock workers get it right every time; they don’t, and hauling the wrong load is considered a service failure for the carrier.
Plan your route.
Once loaded, it’s important to know the most direct and efficient route to your designated delivery location. Being prepared by knowing exactly where you’re going can help you avoid any unexpected pitfalls or sketchy stops. You can pre-plan routes with tools like Truckstop.com’s Fuel Desk which provides valuable information on fuel stops and current fuel prices on the way to your destination. Optimizing your route and fuel expenses will significantly improve your profit margins on the loads you haul.
Answer check calls and use Load Tracking.
Most brokers require daily check-calls from truck drivers to confirm the loads they have in route are on schedule. Failure to make required check-calls can result in fees that are deducted from a carrier’s pay. Use a load tracking service as a way to encourage brokers to work with you, and look for ones that include easy document exchange and storage, as well as automatic check calls. It can save you from being charged unexpected fees later.
Always get detention time documentation.
Drivers typically give the shipper or receiver an industry standard time of 2 hours (unless otherwise stated and agreed upon) before detention time sets in. That means additional compensation isn’t provided until more than 2 hours have gone by. For detention time to be enforced, it is the driver’s responsibility to track and provide documented proof of arrival and wait times by having an authorized individual at the pick-up and delivery facilities sign, or at least initial, date, and time-stamp their arrival. (Load Tracking can help with this through geo-fencing and trip details.)
Provide load delivery and payment paperwork right away.
Upon delivery of each load, make sure you have all required paperwork in order and that it is immediately provided to the broker so you avoid any delays in the contracted payment terms. It’s always a good idea to include your invoice for the 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 they can bill their customer, receive payment, and pay you.
Report days-to-pay on Truckstop.com.
Report your days-to-pay experience on every load you haul to Truckstop.com by clicking the “Report a Broker” tab from our main landing page. Select “Days-to-Pay” and complete the easy on-line form. Your information will become part of the broker’s published credit score calculation and increases the accuracy of the broker credit scores we provide. This helps protect carriers as a whole, as well as reputable brokers.