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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.