It seems that scams are prevalent in practically every area these days. Almost all of us are familiar with email scams, phone scams, fake accounts, and text scams. However, scams can pop up in other areas that are seemingly straightforward. If you’re going to use auto transport services, you need to be aware that scams exist and how to avoid them.
There’s already so much to learn and consider if you’ve never used auto transport before that the task of worrying about scams can be overwhelming. We’ll go over five ways to avoid auto transport scams so that you, your vehicle, and your money stay protected.
5 Ways To Avoid Auto Transport Scams
The following five tips can help you avoid a scam when you need auto transport so you can act with confidence throughout the process.
- Read reviews first.
- Don’t trust pop-up payment windows.
- Read the fine print on agreements and contracts.
- Use a reputable auto transport company.
- Contact the company first.
Since scams are a prevalent part of our world, people that intend to scam you can sometimes put on elaborate displays of authenticity to distract you from their sleight of hand.
When it comes to auto transport scams, you may think you’re getting an honest company, but in reality, it may be people pretending to be an auto transport company to steal vehicles or money.
People may even use the information of an authentic company, such as the name or business address, to gain trust and engage with people who need auto transport services.
1. Read Reviews First
Reviews are one of the best tools we have as consumers. They’re a free resource that helps you learn what others have experienced and what you can expect. You should read various reviews to give yourself the best overall picture of the company, product, or service. Positive reviews are great, but negative reviews can help you spot warning signs.
If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to reading online reviews, you can almost always find a video on the internet of someone reviewing a product or service that you want to try. In addition to consumer reviews, you can also check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to view the BBB’s rating, complaints against the company, and additional reviews from the BBB.
2. Don’t Trust Pop-Up Payment Windows
Pop-up windows have been plaguing internet users for decades. Now, fraudsters use pop-up windows to lead consumers to fake payment windows on hacked websites. The website may be real, but the payment transaction is a scam. Be mindful of sudden PayPal payment windows.
Check the web address for HTTPS at the beginning before entering your payment information on any website. HTTPS means Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This is a good sign that the website is secure and trustworthy.
Also, look for a green lock symbol to the left of the address bar. Green indicates that they have a security certificate that is up to date. When in doubt, it’s best to contact the company directly before making any payments online.
3. Read the Fine Print on Agreements and Contracts
It seems we’re always agreeing or consenting to terms on our screens. It can be easy to skim through agreements and just click accept without reading the fine print details. When presented with documents, be cautious and take your time to read through them.
It may work out to click accept on your phone’s latest update, but don’t let the digital era numb you to reading serious documents dealing with important items like your vehicle or money. Be wary of quotes or contracts with a lot of poor grammar, wording that doesn’t flow smoothly, or promises conditional upon direct payment.
4. Use a Reputable Auto Transport Company
As always, check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company you’re interested in using is legit. Manually type the web address into a search window to see if your search yields any red flags.
If you’re concerned that you won’t know which auto transport company to trust in your area, try Carvaygo. When it comes to auto transport, Carvaygo can take the stress and worry off of you, and they do the vetting process for you to ensure you have a smooth process from quote to booking to transport.
Carvaygo ensures that every time you ship a vehicle, for any reason from relocation to buying or selling a car online, it’s done with a safe and reliable carrier that meets the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards, so your vehicle shows up when and where it is supposed to.
5. Contact the Company First
Reach out to the company before you commit online to anything. Talk to an agent and ask questions to get a sense of how you feel about the company. Scammers will often seek you out rather than answer the call when you reach out first.
Initiating contact may be one of the easiest and most effective ways of protecting yourself from a scam when you need to transport a vehicle.
Types of Auto Transport Scams
- Auto transport phishing
- Fake auto transport companies
- Hidden fees from auto transport companies
Now that you know ways to avoid scams, it would help to learn about the types of auto transport scams out there. Remember, sometimes the scammers want your vehicle, but they sometimes want your data or money.
Auto Transport Phishing?
Phishing scams occur when you receive seemingly authentic correspondence that leads you to give your information away unsuspectingly to a scammer. You’re probably familiar with phishing email scams.
The emails typically require an action before they can do harm. A red flag is when you’re asked to engage with the email by clicking a link. It’s good to enter web addresses rather than following links within emails manually.
When it comes to auto transport, phishing scams can be more complicated. Be wary of these two types of phishing scams:
- Fake Sellers
- Fake Buyers
Fake sellers will typically offer a vehicle at a price drastically lower than the market value. You might agree to purchase the vehicle at the opportunity to cash in on a deal. The scamming seller will then insist that you pay for the vehicle before they ship you the car. They may even go into detail about the costs associated with shipping a vehicle and tell you that a shipping agent is holding the vehicle.
Now that you’re “hooked,” they will reel you in by directing you to a website that will claim to hold your money in escrow. As you wait for your vehicle to arrive, the fake seller already has the money you paid upfront, and you’ll never receive the promised car shipment.
Fake buyers are just the opposite. When you have a vehicle for sale, they’ll agree upon the price, and they will send you a check for the amount of your vehicle and the shipping cost through their auto shipping company of choice.
Once the amount appears to be in your account, the cost of shipment will be requested as per your agreement via an untraceable method like Moneygram or Western Union.
After you send the money, you will inevitably be informed by your bank that the payment did not clear, and you’ll be unable to get the money you wired back. Imagine the frustration of paying someone else to pretend to buy your vehicle.
When it comes to phishing scams, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Fake Auto Transport Companies
In the auto transport industry, there are fake auto transport companies. When you need to ship your car, there are signs you should look for in a car transport company that signal the company is legitimate. Reputable companies should have the following:
- A real phone number
- Legitimate email addresses
- An FMCSA number on the company’s website
If the FMCSA number is not listed on the company’s website, contact them by phone to ask for their Motor Carrier Number or Freight Broker License number. Also, ensure that the company is fully licensed, bonded, insured, and registered with DOT and the FMCSA.
Be wary of car shipping companies that prefer untraceable payment methods. Reputable companies should accept traditional payment methods like credit cards or debit cards.
Legitimate companies will have a Bill of Lading (BOL) for your vehicle transport. A BOL is used in the transportation of goods. Shippers and carriers both have this documentation. It certifies that all parties agree on what’s being shipped, where it’s going, and who the intended recipient will be.
If you’re still concerned about choosing the right direct carrier for your auto transport, shipping brokers can help give you peace of mind. Shipping brokers can help you select the best carrier that offers the car shipping services you require, and with Carvaygo, the vetting process is done for you.
Hidden Fees From Auto Transport Companies
Some scams are easier to spot than others. The email in broken sentences and bad grammar may be easy to spot, but the real company with hidden fees may be the scam you didn’t see coming. Unfortunately, these scams can happen. The two most common scams are:
- Bait and switch
In the bait and switch, the company offers you a low price for their car shipping services. When you accept, the total cost is much higher than the price you were told you would be paying.
In the up-sell scam, you won’t know you’re being scammed until your vehicle is in transport. You set up the car shipment and provide your credit card details. After the pickup, the company calls to tell you that the agreed-upon price has gone up. Until you agree to pay the new total, they will hold your vehicle hostage as ransom.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t have any hidden fees with reputable auto shippers. Any additional fees that could be incurred should be discussed before you agree and before you pay any money.
What To Do Next
You’re prepared and informed, and scammers hate that. Now that you know the types of scams and ways to avoid them, you’re ready to make the critical decisions about your personal auto transport experience. Planning your car shipping shouldn’t come with a fear of being scammed, and choosing the right company can guarantee that it doesn’t.
Choosing a trustworthy company for your shipping needs is essential, and we have your back. At Carvaygo, automobile transporting services are reasonably priced, dependable, and surprisingly simple to use.
Common Scams and Frauds | USAGov
Search the BBB Directory | Better Business Bureau. Start with Trust®
What does “https” in a web address mean? | HealthIT.gov