Unfortunately, online fraud does exist, and the transportation and moving industries are not immune. This considered, choose your Service Provider carefully. While uShip provides useful tools such as government compliance data, carrier profiles, past reviews and feedback scores (similar to eBay), you should employ the same level of due diligence as you would when selecting a Service Provider from another venue, such as the Yellow Pages or Craigslist. Use common sense, and if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Ask questions. Get any agreements in writing. Review carrier credentials, and always pay safely.
After the shipment is booked, you and your Service Provider should exchange a written contract, often called the "bill of lading", outlining the details of your agreement. This is very important in is the event of a disagreement during the transaction. All transportation agreements should be in writing and should include complete information about costs, taxes, tariffs, scheduling, security and pick-up and delivery locations, as well as rules and policies related to refunds or cancellations and delays. In fact, movers are required by law to prepare a bill of lading for every shipment they transport, and it’s your responsibility to read and understand the bill of lading before you accept and sign it.
Carriers that operate for hire across state lines are required to be licensed by USDOT, yet this license does not necessarily guarantee customer satisfaction. Also, commercial intrastate hazardous materials carriers who haul quantities requiring a safety permit must register for a USDOT Number. The USDOT Number serves as a unique identifier when collecting and monitoring a company’s safety information acquired during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations and inspections.
uShip prohibits members from requesting payment from instant cash transfer services (non-bank, point-to-point cash transfer services such as Western Union and Moneygram). When you send money via one of these services, not only can you not confirm who the person receiving the money is, you cannot get it back. Avoid using these services and report anyone who requests that you use these services to uShip.
Some Service Providers request an upfront deposit – it is within their full right to do so. If your Service Provider requests an upfront deposit, be sure that the details of that deposit, such as the circumstances in which it is refundable, are clearly outlined in the contract.
Using a major credit card or a third-party payment system like PayPal to pay your Service Provider may provide you with additional safeguards and recourse in the event of a dispute or suspected fraudulent activity. Check with your credit card company for more information.
Before doing business with any interstate Transportation Service Provider, verify credentials by asking for a copy of the company’s Operating Authority documentation issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) or comparable state and local documents for intrastate carriers. In addition to this documentation, transporters must carry insurance, and drivers must have commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), which include testing requirements for drugs and alcohol. You should also ask for proof of liability and cargo insurance. Several government websites make it easy to verify this information (in conjunction with what’s provided by the carrier), including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System. You can also call 800-832-5660 or 202-366-9805.