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Trucking Safety Expert:

Government Imposters Target Commercial Truck Owners!?

 

By John Ross

 

 Transportation Trucking Forensics Expert

 

What’s one kind of scam targeting you and everyone you know? Imposter scams. They happen when scammers impersonate a person, business, or government agency you trust, and try to convince you to give them money. One of their latest targets: people who own and operate tractor-trailer trucks and other commercial vehicles.

 

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FTC Takes Action.

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit in October of 2016 against a company calling itself the “DOT Authority”. The company’s operatives led commercial truck owners to believe they were dealing with the real U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT Authority tricked commercial vehicle owners into paying extra service fees for help filling out and filing their federal and state motor carrier registrations. The DOT Authority used robocalls, email, and text message to scare owners into believing that if they didn’t pay DOT Authority, they faced a $1,000 fine. Most of the people targeted owned small family run trucking companies with only a few employees and fewer than five trucks.

Trucking company owners who paid DOT Authority did get their registration renewed, but they paid up to $550 more than the official government fee to do it. The registration can be done by company owner’s themselves by renewing their registration through the official Unified Carrier Registration website.

Commercial truck owners and operators also have to recertify information about their vehicles every two years or deactivate their USDOT number if they’re no longer operating commercial vehicles. This is a free service through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). But the DOT Authority charged people between $25 and $200 to download the form for recertification and up to $200 to file for deactivation.

To add salt to the wound, the company also put companies into an automatic renewal program without their permission. The DOT Authority set up automatic payments to charge a yearly fee to “automatically” renew a company’s registration. The scheme, which is believed to have begun as early as 2012, bilked thousands of semi-truck owners out of more than $19 million.

 

By John Ross

 

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