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Understanding and Combating Double Brokering in the Freight Industry

What Exactly is Double Brokering?

In the freight industry, double brokering represents a major ethical breach. It occurs when a carrier, after being contracted to haul a shipment, secretly hands it off to another carrier without the shipper's consent. Typically, this second carrier operates under a different MC number, unbeknownst to the original shipper or broker. This activity violates trust and introduces a slew of risks ranging from delays to outright fraud.

Double Brokering vs. Co-Brokering: A Clear Distinction

While they may sound similar, double brokering and co-brokering are fundamentally different. Co-brokering involves a transparent agreement among multiple brokers to move a shipment. It's a legitimate strategy that enhances efficiency through collaboration. Conversely, double brokering is deceptive; it conceals the reassignment of the shipment to another carrier, often leading to delayed deliveries and unpaid carriers.

Why Would a Carrier Resort to Double Brokering?

Carriers primarily turn to double brokering during tight cash flows. Sometimes, they hire a cheaper carrier and pocket the difference, or worse, they collect payment without delivering the service, planning to dissolve the company soon after. This practice is particularly prevalent in regions like Southern California, where fleeting "pop-up" carriers exploit this scheme repeatedly.

The Legal Landscape

While not illegal everywhere, double brokering is explicitly prohibited under United States federal regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Shippers and brokers must understand local laws to effectively navigate and enforce these rules.

Strategies to Prevent Double Brokering

Preventing double brokering requires vigilance and robust verification processes. Tools like CarrierOK can be instrumental in identifying carriers likely to engage in such practices, highlighted by poor performance scores or irregularities in their reported information. Ensuring transparent communication and verification of carrier credentials at pick-up—such as MC and DOT numbers—can also deter fraudulent activities.

The High Cost of Overlooking Double Brokering

Ignoring the signs of double brokering can lead to significant operational headaches and financial losses. The consequences are far-reaching, from uninsured cargo and theft to severe delays and reputational damage. Recognizing the red flags—such as numerous risk factors on CarrierOK, high volume of shared equipment, or questionable company associations—can help mitigate these risks.


Understanding and avoiding double brokering is crucial in a marketplace that values reliability and transparency. By fostering strong partnerships, rigorously vetting carriers, and employing data-driven tools, stakeholders in the freight industry can protect their operations and ensure that their goods move smoothly and securely across the supply chain.


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