Hi, guys! I hope you all are doing fine and your trucking business is staying compliant with the USDOT? I just want to share some thoughts and experiences with you about some scams that are ongoing in the trucking industry and how to overcome them.
I have been in the trucking business for over 5 years now and staying compliant with all the policies set out by FMCSA isn’t quite easy. I went through a tough time keeping my trucks on the road until I got in contact with DOT Compliance Group who is now handling professional services to me. Right now, I hardly bother about staying compliant with DOT rules because I have professional hands taking care of everything for me for a small fee.
Some of the services I get help with from DOT Compliance Group includes the following:
· Drug and Alcohol Testing Consortium
· Unified Carrier Registration (UCR)
· Training or supervisors in safety-sensitive positions; and
· Biennial Update
However, my major focus today is on biennial updates and how I almost got fooled by some cyber criminals a few days ago. I am going to share my experience so that you can stay informed and avoid falling into the same trap. Before I share my experience, I’d like to talk about the biennial update.
What is the biennial update?
Biennial updates are done every two years. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated all entities under its authority to update their information. This update is done every two years regardless of any changes in your information. According to FMCSA, whether you have ceased interstate operations or no longer in business, you must notify FMCSA about every development.
Failure to do all these will lead to the deactivation of your DOT number and may even attract civil penalties in thousands of dollars.
My experience with the biennial update scam
Some time ago, I received an email from some unscrupulous element feigning to be DOT Compliance Group (the company in charge of handling all my compliance issues). In the email letter, there was a sense of urgency and they (the scammers) said I needed to act fast if I don’t want my USDOT number to be deactivated and also pay fines.
Although the biennial update is free, it can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. So, I decided to use a legally approved third-party consortium to handle everything for me. As at when I received the fake email from the scammers, I haven’t done the biennial update yet so everything looked real to me. On the other hand, the way I was been rushed to make a payment so that they can handle the update for me looked suspicious. I had to take some chill pill to confirm if this biennial update letter was coming from the right source.
What did I do? I simply put a call through to DOT Compliance Group to confirm if truly they sent me a letter about my biennial update. To my uttermost surprise, they told me the letter was not from them and it should be discarded.
A colleague of mine in the same trucking industry told me how he was scammed some years ago by these same cyber criminals. I have also read stories of how criminals used the names of genuine companies to scam clients and customers. However, the biennial update scam was the first to happen to me.
Best ways to deal with these scams
Regardless of the biennial update or any other registration in the trucking industry, below are some ways to save yourself from being scammed by cyber criminals.
Step #1: Verify the email address sending you the letter
The email address sending you a letter must be the same as that of the real company. These criminals are so clever and can make the fake and real email addresses look almost the same. You have to be extra careful to spot the difference.
Step #2: Put a call through to the company
This is another sure way of saving yourself from scams. Ensure you have the phone number of the company and put a call through to them if you are not sure of the authenticity of a letter. In my case, I had to visit the official website of DOT Compliance Group to get their phone number. For most companies, you can visit their “contact us” page or check the bottom of the website to find the phone number and the official email address.
Step #3: Don’t be hasty to react
Most scammers like to rush their activities so that you won’t have time to think about it. If you receive any letter asking you to make payment, don’t react immediately if you are not sure about it. Take you time to ask yourself some questions and verify from the authentic company by following step 2 above.
After my horrible experience with these scammers, I asked DOT Compliance Group what they are doing to stop the madness. They said the best solution is for them to sensitize their clients to be vigilant of scams like these. They have reported several cases to the relevant authorities in the United States but I don’t think the authorities can do much about this issue.
It seems cybercrime has come to stay and there is little we can do to stop it. We just have to be vigilant. Unfortunately, there are thousands of people that will still fall for scams like this one.
My final submission
Always be on the lookout for fake messages from cyber criminals trying to scam you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be on biennial update alone. It could be on UCR or drug & alcohol testing program. Make sure you cross check every fact before responding to any letter. Don’t be hasty to send money to anybody. Put a call through to the third-party consortium you are using for your business. I hope this message comes at the right time to save you from falling for these thieves trying to reap where they didn’t labor.