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C-TPAT-To Join or Not to Join

Is your company still on the fence about participating in Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)?

Are the benefits of 3.5 to 5 times fewer inspections, access to FAST lanes, securing your supply chain (and hence, your reputation), plus the opportunity to participate in other U.S. Customs & Border Protection programs not enough of an enticement?

Here’s an incentive that may sway your company’s mind: the loss of business opportunities.

U.S. Customs strongly advises all C-TPAT partners to encourage their business partners to participate in C-TPAT. Many importers have taken this message to heart, and are requiring importers they purchase from domestically to also be C-TPAT certified in order to do business with them. A well recognized company does not want to be linked with a supplier who experienced a security breach within their supply chain, no matter how small the supplier.

As U.S. Customs continues to mutually recognize the supply chain security programs of other countries*, we are seeing more foreign participants requiring their international trade partners to participate in their own country’s supply chain security program. Foreign manufacturers understand inspection of their cargo is minimal when their entire supply chain is certified in mutually recognized supply chain programs, resulting in quicker processing time of their cargo and availability of their product in the market.

Doing business with companies certified in mutually recognized supply chain programs lessens the burden of work when assessing your supply chain. You don’t have to assess a business partner that is already certified in a supply chain program–they’ve already done that for you, and their Customs agency has confirmed that they’ve done their due diligence by certifying and validating them.

Instead of thinking about whether or not your company should participate in C-TPAT, ask yourself this: can we afford to lose business opportunities because we aren’t certified?

*U.S. Customs & Border Protection mutually recognizes the following foreign supply chain programs: Canada, EU, Japan, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan.

Beverley Seif is Vice President & General Manager of Mohawk Global Trade Advisors. Read more about Beverley.

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New ISO 17712 Standards for High Security Seals

New standards for high security seals will go into effect on May 15, 2014. C-TPAT requires high security seals to meet or exceed PAS ISO 17712:13 standards, although C-TPAT certified partners can continue to use container seals that meet PAS ISO 17712:10 standards until their stock is depleted.

C-TPAT certified partners must advise their business associates of the new container seal requirements to ensure they continue to meet the C-TPAT criteria for seal standards.

All parties who purchase container seals should request conformance certificates provided by an accredited independent lab prior to purchase, as proof that the seals meet PAS ISO 17712:13 standards.

Additional Information

C-TPAT Bulletin – Compliance with ISO’s 17712 Standards for High Security Seals (U.S. Customs & Border Protection)

 

Bev Seif is Vice President & General Manager for Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

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Stop Importer Identity Theft

We’ve all heard of identity theft, and the first thought that comes to mind is having our personal identity stolen. Yet, there are other kinds of identity theft. Many do not realize that corporate identity theft is an issue on the rise.

In particular, reputable importers, who are well known to the public, are having their identity stolen; and unbeknownst to many importers their names are being used in many instances to import contraband and intellectual property rights (IPR) goods. By the time an importer discovers the ruse, the thieves have long closed up shop and moved on to their next victim.

Victims of importer identity theft are often slapped with various lawsuits from the companies that own the intellectual property rights to the illegitimate goods (designer/brand name shoes, handbags, electronics, and pharmaceuticals, etc.) shipped under the importer’s name. Even if the lawsuits are not successful, the legal fees spent to resolve the litigation can be incredibly expensive. An importer’s time will also be taxed, as they will need to be involved in providing information to help U.S. Customs investigate the incident.

As an importer, you are probably asking yourself how this is possible. How easy can it be to steal your corporate identity? Believe it or not, it’s fairly easy to do. Much of an importer’s information is publicly available, some even for sale, through organizations that sell copies of vessel manifests‒which is perfectly legal. Obtaining a company’s federal ID number is easy enough, since it is often widely shared within an organization and with other companies. Company logos can often be copied from web pages or advertising material, making it easy for an imposter to create a company letter head, purchase order, etc. Disgruntled employees have also been known to share information for a price.

What can importers do to help protect their corporate identity? While you may not be able to stop an imposter from stealing your corporate identity, you can take steps to stop them in their tracks and prevent them from using your identity for multiple shipments.

File a manifest confidentiality request with U.S. Customs.
This procedure prevents vessel manifests containing your shipper information, products, marks and numbers, etc. from being copied and sold to the public.

Apply for an online ACE account and check it weekly.
An ACE account allows you to view:

  • entries filed in your company name
  • your shipments’ ports of entry
  • names of customs brokers who have filed entry on your behalf

If you see an unfamiliar port, entry number, or broker and can’t match this information with any of your entries, immediately contact the Port Director of the port where the unidentifiable entry was filed. The port will launch an investigation to track down the identity thief.

Register your trademark and apply for e-recordation with U.S. Customs.
Once you’ve completed these steps, Customs uses the information you provide on your trademark and branded products to try and stop the flow of illegitimate cargo into the United States. Although this is not a full proof way of preventing counterfeit goods from getting into the country, it decreases the odds of it happening.

Shred, shred, shred.
Anything that has identifying company information (stationery, invoices, packaging material, etc.) should be shredded. Dumpsters can be a major source of information for identity thieves.

Wipe electronics before recycling.
Make sure that you wipe smartphones, tablets, computers, copiers, and any other electronics clean before recycling. Identity thieves can easily retrieve company information from old files on discarded devices that haven’t been wiped.

Set up IT controls to secure your company’s network.
It’s important to implement IT controls such as,

  • requiring passwords to be changed every 90 days
  • securing your server in a locked room or by password
  • installing firewall and anti-virus software
  • having software that tracks user access and assigns accountability for transactions

Implementing these recommendations will put your company on track to protect its identity from the ever growing number of thieves out to make a quick buck on your company’s hard earned reputation.

Mohawk Global Trade Advisors offers on-site training for Protecting Your Corporate Identity. See Import Compliance Training for more information about this and other training sessions that we offer.

By Beverley A. Seif, Vice President & General Manager. Click here to read more about Beverley.

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Mohawk Global Trade Advisors, a division of Mohawk Global Logistics © 2016