How to Spot a Reincarnated Carrier

“Reincarnated” or “chameleon” carriers are nothing new. These are carriers who have been shut down by the FMCSA only to open up later as a new business. They’ll have a new business name and MC number, but often retain the same drivers and equipment that had been cited for safety violations or involved in a crime. And while the name is new, the phone number, fax and address are often the same as the old business.

As of Oct. 1, when the MAP-21 Highway Bill took effect, it is now illegal to close down a failed trucking operation and then start over with a new MC number. DOT can revoke registration or authority of a reincarnated carrier or levy a fine. (See MAP-21, Section 32103, Reincarnated Carriers.)

MAP-21 also states that carriers, brokers and freight forwarders must, “Disclose any relationship through common ownership, common management, common control or common familial relationship to any other motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder.”

What this means is that if your spouse or other family member owns a brokerage and you own a trucking company, you must disclose the relationship. Likewise, if you own a trucking company and your brother-in law is an owner-operator, or you transfer ownership of your company to your adult kids, you must disclose those relationships. This is a fraud prevention measure, but honest family business owners need to comply too.

A simple way to cross-reference carriers’ contact info

Although federal and state agencies are now obligated to cross-check their databases to prevent reincarnated carriers, there is no indication that the DOT will have the required software to be able to enforce this law any time soon.

Meanwhile, you can protect yourself from these carriers, as well as identity thieves who obtain MC numbers under false pretenses, by performing an Alias Search. Alias Search is a free tool that allows you to see if an address, phone number, or fax number has been used previously by a carrier who was put out of business. This DAT database combines current FMCSA data with historical FMCSA data that is no longer available to the public, such as the phone number and address associated with an inactive carrier.

Having results in Alias Search is not an indictment of a carrier, but an indication that further exploration may be necessary. For instance, was the same phone number used by another carrier that was put out of service? That may warrant a discussion with the person who is using that phone number today.

Alias Search is a feature of CarrierWatch®, which comes standard with DAT’s Express and Power load boards. If you have Power, you can access CarrierWatch from the Research menu at the top of the screen. In Express, it’s under the Tools menu.

For more information on CarrierWatch, or to upgrade your subscription to include actual insurance certificates, contact customer service at 800-551-8847.