How to Spot a Reincarnated Carrier

By Tami Hart

“Reincarnated” or “chameleon” carriers are nothing new. These are carriers that have been shut down by the FMCSA only to reopen later as a new business with a new name and MC number. While the company may appear new, the phone number, fax, and address are often the same as the old business. The same drivers and equipment that prompted the shutdown in the first place remain, too. 

The MAP-21 Highway Bill makes it illegal to close a failed trucking operation and then start over with a new MC number. The U.S. 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.

Cross-referencing carrier contact info

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

Until then, you can protect yourself from these carriers, as well as identity thieves who obtain MC numbers under false pretenses, by performing an Alias Search in the DAT database of carriers.

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 FMCSA data 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? If so, it may warrant a discussion with the person who is using that phone number today.

Alias Search is a feature of CarrierWatch®, which is 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 DAT customer service at 800-551-8847.