Are you in need of auto transport services but you are afraid of falling victim to a car shipping scam? This is a legitimate concern, given that there are plenty of scammers in this industry. The internet makes it easy to arrange for auto shipping services, but it also increases the chances that you could become the next victim of an auto transport scam. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of reliable and legitimate auto shipping companies out there. It just takes knowing what to look for when choosing a company to handle your valuable shipment. Read on for helpful advice for avoiding common car shipping scams.
1. Check for Proper Licensing and Registration
All vehicle transporters are required to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They should also have a motor carrier number (MC#) as well as a USDOT number. Be sure to ask for this information when speaking with a prospective company. You also want to verify the information yourself by checking the FMCSA website. In addition to providing these credentials, this website can also provide you with information regarding the transporter’s history.
2. Pay Attention to the Website
Scammers know that you are going to begin your search for auto transport online and that’s why they will create fake websites to lure customers. Lucky for you, most car shipping scams are quite obvious when you examine the website a little closer. Here are a few red flags when searching a website:
-The site seems poorly designed and thrown together
-The site is very basic with little information regarding the actual service.
-It is only one page.
-There are typos and misspelled words.
-There is an email address but no phone number.
-The site does not list any credentials such as MC# or USDOT#.
3. Check Reviews
Before choosing a shipping company, be sure to check plenty of reviews. You can start by reading the reviews on Yelp, Google Business, and the Better Business Bureau. Stay away from companies with only perfect reviews, as this can be a sign that the reviews have been staged. It is unlikely that any company has a perfect record. On the other hand, you don’t want to choose a company with several negative reviews. You want to try and choose something that is reasonable in the middle. If you can’t find any reviews at all, that is a red flag that the company is probably not legitimate.
4. Avoid Super Low Pricing
If the price seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is. Some companies will try and boast incredibly low prices that are significantly lower than their competitors to entice customers. However, if you look closer at the fine print, you will notice additional fees for basic services that are being advertised as “upgrades.” Some companies will even offer low estimates to try and pressure you into making a deposit. Then, you are at the mercy of the broker. Be mindful that the price shouldn’t fluctuate a great deal in this industry. The only companies that are offering very low rates are either scamming you or have such a poor reputation that no one deals with them directly.
5. Check Payment Methods
A scammer will ask you to pay for the service in an unusual way such as a Moneygram or Western Union. This is because wire-transfers are not traceable. On the other hand, legitimate companies will accept credit, debit, bank transfer, or cashier’s checks.
6. Read the Contract Closely
Always read the contract completely to make sure you understand it. If you sign a contract without reading it, you could be subject to unexpected fines or fees. Make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions including liability, limitations, exemptions, and costs. If you are confused about anything, be sure to ask for clarification.
7.Speak to the Driver
A reputable car shipping company will provide you with details about the driver including their contact information. Customers should be allowed to contact the driver with questions regarding the service and to confirm pick up and delivery times.