What's In This Article?

  1. A Car Shipping Scam: What is it?
  2. What Kind of Auto Shipping Scams Are There
  3. How Can I Spot an Auto Shipping Scam
  4. Several Pointers to Avoid Car Transport Scams

A Car Shipping Scam: What is it?

An auto transport scam refers to a deceitful scheme where an individual or company misrepresents itself as a provider of car shipping services but either fails to offer these services or does so inadequately. 

Although car shipping scams can manifest in various ways, they often entail the con artist requesting upfront payment for shipping services they never provide or charging exorbitant fees for subpar services.

It is of utmost importance to exercise caution when choosing a car shipping company due to the prevalence of scammers in this industry. Researching a company thoroughly and reading client testimonials before accepting any services is highly recommended.

Car shipping scams

What Kind of Auto Shipping Scams Are There?

Bait-and-switch scam

The most prevalent form of auto transport scam is the one being referred to. The company offers a highly competitive price for shipping your car. Subsequently, they attempt to acquire additional funds for the transportation of your vehicle.  

The up-sell auto shipping scam:

The intended victims of this scam are individuals who are in the process of relocating and are seeking to ship their vehicles. They provide car shipping services through a highly professional website, offering competitive and affordable prices.

When you reach out to the company, you can converse with a charming and courteous individual. Due to your urgency in organizing things, you quickly provide your credit card details and finalize the rest of your arrangements. 

After a short period, once the company has retrieved your vehicle, you will receive a phone call notifying you that there has been a change in the price.

There could be various reasons, but if you choose not to make the payment, they are obligated to retain possession of your car until you agree to pay the higher price. 

Scam involving a fake buyer:

The auto transport service scam specifically targets individuals who are in the process of selling their vehicles. The scammer will contact you and make an offer to purchase it. Once you have agreed on the price, the other party kindly sends you a check.

The check covers not only the vehicle's cost but also includes shipping expenses, which will be facilitated through their designated and approved shipping company. This company happens to have its website.

Typically, the funds are successfully processed, but afterward, you may receive a solicitation to send additional money for shipping expenses. Please transfer the money following the agreement.

Our payment options will include a method that ensures the recipient can access the funds promptly and without traceability. Examples of such methods include Western Union or Moneygram.

After a few days, you receive an unfortunate call from your bank informing you that the original check has bounced. This implies that the funds have been removed from your account, resulting in a loss for you.   

Faux seller:

Car shipping scams occur when an individual pretends to be a legitimate car seller but is a scammer. They offer to sell you a car at a significantly lower price than its market value. If you express your intention to purchase the vehicle, the seller may insist you send the payment before shipping the car. 

The shipping agent will inform you that the vehicle is being held. To verify the information, they will guide you to their official website, which assures the secure holding of your funds in an escrow account.

Throughout the entire process, you find yourself patiently anticipating the shipment of your car. Indeed, such an occurrence is improbable. They accept customer payment but must fulfill their promise of delivering the vehicle.

Car transport scams

How Can I Spot an Auto Shipping Scam?

One of the initial warning signs indicating a potential car transport scam is when a company declines to provide a physical address.

A trustworthy company will readily provide you with their complete street address, including the suite number and city. A significant warning sign is if someone cannot provide a physical address and instead offers a P.O. Box.

Another red flag indicating a potential car transport scam is when the company requests a substantial deposit before initiating your vehicle's transportation. A reputable company will only demand payment once the job is fully completed.

Another significant warning sign is when a shipping company requests you to sign a contract without allowing you to review its contents. It is essential to always read any document thoroughly before signing it.

Lastly, if the company requests your credit card or Social Security number, it should raise a significant concern. A reputable company will never request this information from you.

Car shipping scams

Several Pointers to Avoid Car Transport Scams

Look at their website:

Companies that engage in fraudulent activities frequently hastily create websites without investing significant funds. This often results in numerous grammatical errors, which are unlikely to be made by individuals fluent in their native language (explicitly referring to English in the context of auto transport companies in the United States).

Typos can occur occasionally, especially on the internet, where even reputable sources like CNN can make minor errors. However, such occurrences are rare. Scam sites often exhibit numerous errors and tend to have few pages.

They usually need an email address. It is important to note that websites without contact information should be regarded as fraudulent companies without hesitation. 

Inquire about their phone number:

Auto transportation companies primarily rely on phone communication due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to facilitate efficient and prompt interactions among brokers, carriers, and customers.

Scam companies or individuals who run fraudulent websites often lack a telephone number. However, identifying those with one can be slightly more challenging. Nevertheless, a straightforward solution is to call the company and converse with a natural person to gather relevant information about the company.

Suppose someone is unwilling to provide you with publicly available information, such as their license to broker freight or motor carrier number. In that case, it may be prudent to consider adding them to a "scam" list and continuing your search elsewhere.

Car transport scams

Examine their ratings

Websites such as Transport Reviews are valuable tools for identifying fraudulent companies. They provide genuine customer feedback, making them exceptionally reliable.

Transport Reviews, in particular, stands out as the top site for auto shipping reviews due to their stringent verification process, ensuring that the thoughts are from legitimate customers and not individuals paid by the companies to post positive feedback.

In addition, they provide an opportunity for the companies listed on their website to address negative reviews and present their perspective. This is a crucial strategy because it enables reputable companies to clarify the situation for everyone. Scam companies are often characterized by a scarcity of reviews, which are overwhelmingly negative and unchallenged.

Although their duration is typically short, they remain on the site regardless of their activity level. The most reputable companies typically receive numerous positive reviews, occasionally accompanied by a few negative ones.

However, what sets them apart is their proactive approach to addressing these concerns. This demonstrates that the shipping company actively communicates with both previous and existing customers, as well as potential ones.


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