Common Auto Shipping Scams and How to Avoid Them

Common Auto Shipping Scams and How to Avoid Them

You must be able to trust the company you’re hiring to transport your vehicle. Unfortunately, several companies out there scam customers out of their money through many tactics. 


Research will be your number one ally when it comes to identifying a professional auto transport company. We’re here to give your research a sense of direction by helping you identify red flags that can indicate scams, providing some additional general tips to help you avoid scams, and outlining the indications of a reputable auto transport service. 


When it comes to red flags that indicate auto shipping scams, some signs are obvious, while others are not so obvious. 



What Red Flags Indicate That an Auto Shipping Company Is a Scam?


Auto transport companies should have professional websites, positive reviews and never request large upfront payments. 


What Does a Fake Auto Transport Service Website Look Like?


Members of the auto transport industry understand that most people use the internet to locate and consult with a vehicle shipping service. This knowledge leads to auto transport companies putting a lot of effort into designing modern, user-friendly, and informative websites. If you hop on an auto transport company’s website and find grammar errors, a poor design, a lack of information, and slow page loading speed, there’s a chance that the site owners are using the website as a platform to lure in scam victims. 


An auto transport company’s digital footprint should extend beyond their website. If you identify a vehicle transport service that appears to be a solid choice, your next goal is to find positive reviews that support the company’s image. Auto transport companies with no reviews, very few reviews, or mostly negative reviews, are a major red flag. 


How Do Auto Transport Scams Trick People Into Paying?


You must never make a large upfront payment for a service you haven’t received. We recommend that you hold off on making any payments until there’s a confirmed truck driver with a number you can reach the driver at. Be skeptical of guaranteed delivery dates from companies. Certain auto transport services running scams might try to offer you a guaranteed spot if you make a deposit, but it’s important to know that there are no fixed dates within the auto transport industry. 


The quote you receive for an auto transport service can indicate a scam. If a quote seems too good to be true in terms of its low price, it might be fake. Never provide an auto transport service with credit card information unless you’ve read their terms and conditions and signed a contract. Some auto transport companies running scams will offer prospective customers incentives for making early upfront payments. One common buyer incentive scam is a free gas card. The auto transport service might offer you a Visa prepaid gas card that’s worth a couple of hundred dollars. These cards don’t exist. 


Let’s go over some additional tips you can use to protect yourself from auto car shipping scams. 


How Do I Find Out How the Auto Shipping Industry Works?


Understanding how the auto shipping industry operates will aid your ability to identify transport services that are worth working with. We recommend studying the difference between brokers and carriers, different vehicle shipping methods, average costs, and typical delivery times. 


Brokers will handle your entire vehicle delivery process by vetting carriers and assigning drivers. You’ll have to pay a broker fee that usually averages between $100-$250. If the broker fee is way above this average mark, you might be in the middle of a scam. A broker fee might be more than our average estimate if you’re shipping expensive cars or arranging interstate shipping. Carriers are different than brokers in that they are the ones transporting your vehicle. You’ll have insurance through a proper carrier. 


How Do I Verify Auto Transport Insurance?


All professional auto transport companies should provide proof of insurance. Every auto shipping company should at least have basic level car shipping insurance according to the law. Watch out for auto transport services that hesitate or refuse to show proof of insurance upon your request. Brokers include insurance checks as a part of their vetting process. 


What Is the Bait and Switch Trick?


Some auto transport companies might offer you an initial price to ship your vehicle only to add-on extra charges before your vehicle’s pickup date. Quotes that don’t seem realistic can be an indication of a possible bait and switch tactic. One way to protect yourself from a bait and switch is to ask for the auto transport company’s quote in writing. If the company attempts to increase the price, you’ll have documented evidence showing the original quote. 


How Do I Check an Auto Transport Company’s Licensing and Registration?


All vehicle transport services need to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). When you’re consulting with a prospective auto transport service, request their MC and USDOT numbers. Both MC and USDOT numbers are legal requirements that indicate a transport service has proper credentials.


Do I Need to Read My Vehicle Shipping Contract?


We recommend that you read through your vehicle shipping contract so you can understand potential charges, liabilities, exemptions, and limitations. If you skim a contract, you’ll risk not knowing what you’re in for. A worst-case scenario example would have your car experience damage during transit to find out the insurance won’t cover all of the damage costs. 


Should I Question Direct Carrier Claims?


Another term for the transporter is a direct carrier. If an auto shipping service claims to be a direct carrier, they should have their transport vehicles and drivers. Verify that a direct carrier is legit by asking them about the transport vehicles they own and their drivers. 


What Resources Can I Use to Identify Trustworthy Auto Transport Companies?


Most people vet auto transport companies using online review platforms like Trustpilot and Google Reviews. While many people use the internet to locate trustworthy auto transport services, don’t underestimate a personal recommendation from someone you know. Chances are, there’s someone you know that has experience shipping a vehicle.    


Why Can I Trust Ship Vehicles for My Vehicle Transport Needs?


Ship Vehicles has been providing businesses and consumers with top-tier shipping services all across North America for over 30 years. We’re proud to hold a near 100% customer satisfaction rate. Contact us to receive a quote and present any questions that you might have.


We look forward to hearing from you!