Why not to trust Carrier 411

October 23 2023

When it comes to researching carriers and making informed decisions for your business, having access to accurate and reliable information is crucial. The Carrier411 website has gained popularity as a platform for obtaining carrier data and monitoring compliance. However, it is important to exercise caution and understand its limitations. In this blog post, we will explore why the Carrier411 website may not be the most trustworthy source and provide alternative options for obtaining reliable carrier information. 

What is Carrier411? 

Carrier411 is an online platform that offers various services related to carrier compliance, safety ratings, and fleet monitoring. It allows users to search for carriers, view their safety records, and access other relevant information. While it may seem like a convenient tool at first glance, there are certain aspects of the website that raise concerns about its reliability. Here are some examples that you might want to consider. 

Lack of Official Verification 

A point to consider when using the Carrier411 website is the verification process for the data it showcases. In addition to the concerns regarding the reliability of the information on Carrier411, there is another significant issue that exacerbates the problem. It is not merely the utilization of such information that poses a challenge; rather, it is the unrestricted ability of their clients, specifically brokers and shippers, to submit what they refer to as FreightGuard reports. These reports can have implications for carriers, especially if they feel the need to address certain claims made in these reports. It’s worth noting that some reports on Carrier411, known as FreightGuard reports, are user-submitted and might not undergo a rigorous verification process by Carrier 411. Essentially, anyone can make baseless claims without facing any consequences. Once an unfavorable report is filed by an aggrieved broker or shipper, who may be dissatisfied for reasons unrelated to the carrier’s performance, the accused carrier is compelled to allocate a substantial portion of their hard-earned revenue towards legal fees in order to engage an attorney who will then send a letter to the reporting party. Unfortunately, this protracted process allows the report to remain visible to major brokers for a prolonged period, potentially spanning an entire week, thereby significantly impeding the carrier’s business operations. This not only places an undue financial burden on carriers but also tarnishes their reputation in the eyes of potential clients. Therefore, a law case cannot be submitted against Carrier 411 because of the law Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that protects online platforms from liability.  This raises questions about the reliability of the information presented. 
Here are some sources where you can read actual reviews from carriers facing those issues 

Incomplete or Outdated Data 

Carrier411 utilizes publicly available data, which, like any third-party platform, might sometimes be behind the most current updates. While the FMCSA maintains a comprehensive database of carrier information, it can take time for updates and changes to be reflected on third-party platforms like Carrier411. This means that the data presented on the website may not always reflect the current status or compliance of a carrier. For example, if a carrier has been involved in an accident or has had their authority revoked, this information may not be reflected on Carrier411 for some time. As per FMCSA’s website: “This is because third-party platforms need to extract the data from the FMCSA database, and then they need to format it in a way that their own systems can understand. This process can take a few days or even weeks. “ 
This could lead to shippers and brokers making inaccurate assessments about the carrier and potentially putting their freight at risk.   It’s always a good idea to cross-reference information from multiple sources when making business decisions to ensure accuracy. 

Depending solely on Carrier411 for carrier information may result in overlooking important players in the market or missing out on valuable insights. 

What you can do- Alternatives to Carrier411 

To ensure accurate and trustworthy carrier information, it is advisable to explore alternative options. Here are some Sources of Carrier verification that can complement or serve as substitutes for the Carrier411 website: 

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):  
The FMCSA operates the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system, which provides comprehensive carrier data and safety records. Accessing information directly from the FMCSA can offer more reliable and up-to-date information. 
Follow the prompts below to get to that data( check out the video if you prefer watching instead of reading the process)  

Licencing and Insurance Sector on Safer

Go to Licensing and insurance section on Safer Here’s a YouTube video of how to get there

Checking a carrier’s authority history on Safer 
When you’re researching trucking companies, it’s important to check their authority history and Safety score on Safer. This will show you if the company has ever had their authority revoked, which is a serious problem. Good carriers will have their authority granted and that’s the only information you’ll see in that section. 

Changes in insurance companies 
Another red flag is if the carrier has been replacing insurance policies frequently (less than an year). This could be a sign that the insurance company didn’t want to work with them anymore. For a 10-year history, 3-5 insurance companies is probably a good record. 

Too many cancellations 
If you see that the carrier has had their insurance canceled multiple times (more than 5), that’s a sign of a problem. This could be due to many factors, such as many crashes or violations. According to our insurance agent- Tom Friedel from Arthur J Gallagher & Co, this could also indicate that the carrier has a payment issue if the same insurance policy is being canceled and replaced.   

Crash indicator 
The carrier’s crash indicator is also a good indicator of their safety record. If you see that the carrier has had a lot of small crashes, this could be a sign that their safety practices are not up to par. This could lead to the insurance company canceling their policy or your load might not reach its final destination in a proper condition

SMS Section

In this section you will find 7 different BASICS. Two of them are not public- Crash Indicator and Hazardous Materials. Unlike in Carrier 411, you can still see some data about the non-public BASICS. For example, the Crash indicator- you do not see the details, but you can see that a crash occurred within the past 24 months.  Here’s an entire playlist with details about each FMCSA BASIC

Another factors to consider before working with a carrier according to our insurance agent:

Strongly screen carriers with less than 2 years in business.

One recent scam in California involved a crime ring setting up many fake trucking companies. These trucking companies double-brokered this freight to other trucking companies. The bill of ladings was falsified and the freight was delivered to a warehouse owned by the criminals involved. This freight was sold and this cargo theft ring accumulated $150 million in cargo theft.  The unsuspecting motor carriers hauling this freight were not paid and when attempting to collect the crime ring shut down the newly opened authorities.

Strongly screen a motor carrier with no DOT inspections

DOT inspections are conducted to ensure that carriers are complying with Safety Regulations. Carriers with no DOT inspections are either inexperienced or setting up a shell company to move trucks from an unsafe motor carrier.

Our agent mentioned that these items are not absolute, but just use caution when working with these carriers. A business relationship can obviously help mitigate these risks when using these carriers.

Paid Commercial Credit Reporting Services

Utilizing commercial credit reporting services, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Transcredit, can provide valuable insights into a carrier’s financial stability, credit history, and business operations. For your convenience, Transcredit provides a Free Trial to our readers so you can test them out before committing to a subscription.
Transcredit has been in the industry for more than 36 years. As their clients, we have experienced a commendable level of service. These services offer a more holistic view of a carrier’s overall performance. 

Industry Associations and Organizations

The DAT Carrier Scorecard– This scorecard provides carriers with a rating based on their safety performance. You can view the scorecard for free on the DAT website

Another source of carrier verification is Better Business Bureau The BBB is a non-profit organization that helps consumers make informed decisions about businesses. They do this by collecting and publishing information about businesses, including their complaint history, customer reviews, and ratings. The BBB’s complaint system is a valuable tool for consumers. If you have a problem with a business, you can file a complaint with the BBB.  On the other hand, organizations like the BBB have a process where they investigate and try to mediate complaints made against businesses.  
Matrix is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau- Check out our profile here .  It’s a testament to our commitment to providing excellent customer service. We take pride in our reputation for being a reliable and trustworthy carrier.

Tips from our Broker partners

Brokers that have been in business for over а century shared this approach with us. They desired to stay anonymous.

  1. Check the company’s address on Google- does it really exist or it’s a “phantom” company and see if something pops up 
  1. If it’s a first time working with a carrier, call the dispatcher to see how he behaves on the phone- is he confident and aware of his drivers or he is hesitant.  
  1. If it’s your first time working with a carrier, check in your system to see if your colleagues have worked with the carrier before. Ask them for opinions about how the carrier did with the shipment, are there any notes in the carrier’s profile?  
  1. Regardless of the Freight Guards and other complaints, the relationship between Dispatch and the Brokerage should be in the first place. If there is a strong relationship it does not matter what the others say. 

Make Informed Decisions 

While the Carrier411 website may offer some convenience in accessing carrier information, it is important to recognize its limitations. Incomplete and potentially outdated data, along with the lack of official verification, can compromise the reliability of the information presented. By exploring alternative options like the FMCSA, The tips from our business Partners, industry associations and organizations, you can gather more accurate and comprehensive carrier data, enabling you to make informed decisions that align with your business goals and requirements. 

Remember, trust and accuracy are paramount in the logistics industry, and relying on reputable sources will help you mitigate risks and build successful partnerships.