Reading : 3 minutes
Jan 23, 2024

Getting nervous makes total sense when you're about to fork over a chunk of change to have a stranger drive your car across the country! But take a breath. Most car transport services are legitimate and that should ease those worries. 

That said, a few operators are always trying to swipe cash from trusting folks. So let’s break down what to watch out for with car shipping scams. 

Common Auto Transport Scams

While most auto transport companies are on the same level, some might use tricks to exploit customers. Watch out for things like unrealistically cheap bids, surprise fees, lack of insurance, fake businesses, and more — which we'll get into below. 

Too Good to Be True Shipping Costs

See a quote that seems too cheap to pass up? Don't assume it's the real deal. Sketchy vehicle shippers lure you in with lowball rates, then pile on hidden charges and "renegotiate" once they've got your car. When we provide you a quote, that’s the price you pay.  

Insufficient Insurance

Legit companies have hefty insurance coverage, but check the fine print! Preexisting damage like dents or paint chips often isn't covered. Make sure any transporter has adequate insurance so you don't get stuck paying for en-route damage out of pocket. 


What about nice-looking websites offering white glove, five-star service? This could be legit – we personally offer a damage-free guarantee at Ship a Car direct.  

What you want to avoid are websites that are too good to be true and ask for too much from you. Phishing scams targeting customers are common car shipping scams online. That unsecure website might just want your personal info, not your car. Do your homework and look for certifications and authorizations to make sure they’re legitimate.  

Surprise Fees

Unreputable brokers quote low, then tack on vague charges like terminal fees or processing fees after promising you a deal. Get guaranteed, all-in pricing in writing first to avoid these unexpected costs. 

Hiding Damage

Some truck drivers cover up dings or scrapes that happen during shipping and deny fault. Good carriers own up to damage that occurs while in transit. Carefully inspect vehicles at loading/unloading and document existing damage ahead of time. 

Fake Seller

For private sales, scammers pose as car shipping companies collect payments, then disappear into thin air. Deal locally and in-person when possible, rather than sending money remotely to avoid auto shipping scams. 

Unknown Drivers

Rarely, hired drivers have stolen loaded vehicles mid-route. Good firms thoroughly vet drivers and use GPS tracking. For peace of mind, confirm background check policies and vehicle tracking measures are in place. 

How to Know If a Car Shipping Company Is Legit

With so many car shipping scams around, telling legit operators from scams takes work. Warning signs like unbelievably low quotes, no verifiable credentials, and sketchy contact info should raise eyebrows. Check into: 

  • Licenses, insurance paperwork, operating authority 
  • Corporate status with the Secretary of State 
  • Safety ratings and violations 
  • BBB profiles and reviews 
  • Reviews on transport websites 
  • Longevity via incorporation dates 
  • Reliability of addresses/phones 

If credentials seem fishy or reviewers report getting ripped off, walk away. There are plenty of proven, reliable auto transporters to handle your vehicle shipment professionally. 

How to Avoid Car Shipping Scams

Follow these tips when choosing a car shipping company: 

  • Thoroughly research reputation beforehand 
  • Verify all credentials 
  • Get quotes covering every cost in writing 
  • Review insurance provisions closely 
  • Meticulously inspect vehicles pre and post-ship 
  • For peer sales, meet locally or use escrow 
  • Trust your gut – if it seems shady, pass 

Car Transport Scams: FAQs

What are amateur operator red flags?

Using personal cars or rental trucks, needing extra paperwork, using temporary throwaway phones, free email accounts, or having no verifiable street address. 

Who can I contact if I am a victim of a car shipping scam?

If scammed by a licensed carrier, immediately file complaints with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, state attorney general, and BBB to potentially get money back while exposing shady businesses. 

Should I buy extra insurance protection? 

Most carriers include standard coverage with restrictions outlined in contracts. Review provisions to see if added insurance makes sense for high-value vehicles or long cross-country trips with more weather/road risks. 

What should I do if damage occurs during transport?

Carefully document any damage immediately and take photos. File a claim right away per the transport company's damage claims process outlined in your contract. Most will assess and remedy damages professionally but stay on top of the process. 

Final Thoughts

You can avoid most car shipping scams by thoroughly checking out providers, scrutinizing contracts, inspecting carefully, and taking precautions. Keep the above guide handy when selecting a company. 

Looking to ship your car with a company you can trust? Get a quote at our Ship a Car Direct website today

Frequently Asked Questions

Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions

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