We’ve all heard the horror stories—whispers in a dark rest stop about a friend of a friend losing his freight, his job, and eventually his house to a scam.
It can happen to anybody, these days.
In the trucking industry, we like to watch out for each other.
No matter what side of the rig you stand on, there are scams running about. So watch out for these!
Fake Documents for Drivers
Sometimes a driver may receive a fax, letter, or email from someone with a Washington, D.C. contact and an official looking Department of Transportation letterhead.
The goal of this communication is to scare the driver into releasing their financial information, and then identity theft is easy.
Remember, a government agency will never ask you to disclose financial information unprovoked—no matter how official the letterhead.
If you are contacted by someone asking these questions, contact the agency yourself to find out if there is a real concern.
And remember to only use IRS-authorized e-filing services when it comes to your taxes.
Company Independent Contractor Scams
Now, there are sometimes mix-ups—and this could honestly happen by mistake.
But there are a few companies who think they can list employees as independent contractors to avoid compliance with Department of Labor regulations, IRS regulations, DOT regulations, and OSHA regulations.
Shady companies will see this as an opportunity to add to their bottom line, since they’re excused from covering employee expenses.
Since independent contractors aren’t employees, the driver ends up taking full responsibility in event of a citation, violation, or accident. Or they can lose their employment!
Of course, when tax time rolls around and the employee sees a 1099 instead of a W-2, things become more clear.
And by no means is there a problem with using independent contractors, but just make sure you know your status before it‘s too late.
Freight Identity Theft
It’s a pretty nasty scheme, really. Thieves will assume the identity of a trucking company from a deactivated and dormant carrier number from the Department of Transportation.
They then pretend to be a long-established firm with a good safety record, and will go as far as having fake paperwork and documents.
The cons then offer lower bids to freight brokers, and show up to the proper companies. It’s only once they get the goods that they vanish into thin air.
And just like your social security number can be stolen, your employer identification number (EIN) is always at risk for business scams!