Because the Power of Attorney (POA) can authorize the movement of conveyances and merchandise into the United States, it is critical that it be examined carefully. By ensuring that each POA is valid, the broker joins U.S. Custom and Border Protection on the national security frontlines in verifying the data used to screen what enters this country.
In addition to security, the broker’s own professional business interest and continuing obligation to demonstrate “reasonable care” require verification of the POA grantor’s identity and legal authority (position in a company or partnership) to enter into a POA.
Within Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee's (COAC) recommendation 010045, it is suggested that to verify the authenticity of information provided by the importer to the broker, the broker could review publicly available open source information regarding the importer’s business and as appropriate.
Here are some ways the broker can validate a Power of Attorney:
- To the greatest extent possible, have POA’s completed in person so the grantor’s unexpired government issued photo identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) can be reviewed.
- Check applicable web sites to verify the POA grantor’s business and registration with the State authority.
- If the principal uses a trade or fictitious name in doing business, confirm that the name appears on the POA.
- Verify that the importer’s name, importer’s number and Employer Identification Number (also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number) on the POA match what is in ACE.
- Verify the importer’s address is a “brick and mortar” location on a public mapping program, and not simply a “postal box” or undeveloped parcel of land.
- Dial the provided phone landline number for authentication.
- Cross-check the provided information through a third party entity, ie: credit report, DUN’s number, or similar business identifying entity.
- Access the client’s website for depth of content versus only a surface containing a landing page.
- Check whether the POA grantor is named as a sanctioned or restricted person or entity by the U.S. Government. See the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Export Enforcement (https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/oee).