Importer Identity Theft; An Easy And Lucrative Way To Contraband


Contraband trade is an very lucrative business to be in for criminals. It is too attractive for criminals to stay away. Criminal enterprises, same as a legitimate enterprises, are out to make a hefty profit. They will use all means to achieve their objective, from stealing, bribing, or even killing to meet their objectives. Out of all their methods, I found out that identity theft is the most interesting one, which is importing or exporting with a stolen importer or exporter of record identity.

Do you think identity theft happens to an individual only? 

Not exactly, according to the American Association of Exporter and Importer. Stolen importer of record number are being stolen and being use unlawfully by criminals. Many importers were surprised to find out that their number had been used by others not knowingly. While stolen identify victims are going through legal lawsuits from involved company in regarding to intellectual copy right or illegal goods such as designer handbags, shoes, or electronics etc.. Even though victim are able to fight off these criminal charges, they still left with hefty legal fees while the real benefactor closed shop, and sipping their Pina Coloda on some sunny island  somewhere. For criminals, using false identity to do criminal activities is the best way to try to protect themselves. By doing so they hope to have virtually no or little risk involved.

There is one group of importers/exporters that are targeted more than other group, whom are the member’s of C-TPAT (Counter Terrorism partnership Against Terrorism). As we all may know C-TPAT is a protection for importers and U.S. Customs to root out the bad guys, and helps the importer or exporter who are certified with C-TPAT on yearly basis. Being certified C-TPAT is not simple, you need provide proof of the regulated procedures you follow in your business to U.S. Custom showing that you are following what needs to be done as a C-TPAT member.

How could this happen you may ask?

Similar to individual information, marketer can collect  and sell your information. Whether you like it or not, through legal means, your company information is publicly available, some information could even be for sale such as the vessel manifest which you are having your shipment from. Next thing that the identity thefts are looking for is, to get your federal identification number. This is also a fairly not very complicated step for them since your federal identification number is widely shared within your own business or outside of your organization. Following these procedures identity thefts can make out legitimate documents through searching on your website or your marketing material, copying your company logo on documents to get the identical look.

Now that you know you may be a potential victim for Identity thefts, you should protect yourself from the customer and vendors that you are dealing with. I suggest you to search on the vendors or customers to collect information about them first before choosing them. If you are also a C-TPAT member; you would have guide lines to follow to ensure your qualification to maintain your membership with C-TPAT which can help protect you for these kinds of incidents. In MTS Logistics as a C-TPAT member, we choose the customers and vendors that we use to protect ourselves and our customer’s Identity. Protect yourself, know who you are working with, know their company history and it is the best to always to work with C-TPAT.