Auto Transport Scams (How to Avoid Them 2024)

auto transport scamsWhen it comes to transporting your vehicle from one location to another, whether it’s for a long-distance move, a car purchase, or any other reason, it’s crucial to be aware of potential scams in the auto transport industry. Scammers often take advantage of unsuspecting individuals, resulting in financial losses and unnecessary stress. This article aims to provide you with insights and tips to protect yourself from auto transport scams.

What is a Car Shipping Scam?

A car shipping scam is a fraudulent scheme in the car transportation industry. Scammers deceive vehicle owners by posing as legitimate transport brokers or carriers, often offering unrealistically low prices or promising faster delivery times. These scams result in financial losses, delays, and damage to vehicles. Scammers may create fake websites, use counterfeit licenses, and demand large upfront payments before disappearing.To protect against car shipping scams, it is important to research companies thoroughly, read reviews, and be cautious of extremely low quotes. Use secure payment methods and stay vigilant to ensure a safe and reliable car transportation experience.

What are the Different Types of Auto Transport Scams

Unrealistic Quotes Scammers lure customers with extremely low quotes that seem too good to be true. Once hired, they may add hidden costs or provide subpar service, resulting in unexpected expenses or a poor shipping experience.Phishing ScamsFraudsters impersonate legitimate car shipping companies and send emails or messages asking customers to click on malicious links or provide personal information. These scams aim to steal sensitive data or commit identity theft.Deposit FraudScammers may request a large upfront deposit but fail to deliver the promised services or disappear altogether after receiving the payment. Customers are left without their vehicle and lose their money.Vehicle Held HostageSome scammers intentionally delay the delivery of vehicles and demand additional payments before releasing them. They may invent reasons for the delays or refuse to communicate effectively, causing frustration and financial losses for customers.Inadequate Insurance CoverageDishonest transport companies claim to have insurance coverage but provide insufficient or nonexistent coverage for vehicles in transit. This leaves customers vulnerable to financial losses if their vehicle gets damaged, stolen, or lost.

Shipping a car across the country offers many benefits

Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts. If a car shipping company is making unrealistic promises, pressuring you to make quick decisions, or exhibiting suspicious behavior, it’s best to look for alternative options.

Research and Verify: Thoroughly research and verify the credibility and reputation of the car shipping companies you are considering. Check if they are registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and have valid licenses and insurance.Compare Multiple Quotes: Obtain quotes from multiple car shipping companies and compare them. Be cautious of excessively low quotes, as they may indicate a scam. Compare prices to get a sense of the average cost in the market for the specific service you require.Get Everything in Writing: Ensure that all the details of the agreement, including the cost, pickup and delivery dates, insurance coverage, and any additional services, are documented in a written contract. Review it carefully before signing and keep a copy for your records.Read Reviews and Testimonials: Look for customer reviews and testimonials to gauge the experiences of others who have used the services of the car shipping company. This can provide valuable insights into their reliability and professionalism.Secure Payment Methods: Use secure payment methods, such as credit cards or reputable online payment platforms, to protect yourself from potential fraud. Avoid making large upfront payments or using unconventional payment methods that offer little or no recourse.Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, trust your instincts. If a car shipping company is making unrealistic promises, pressuring you to make quick decisions, or exhibiting suspicious behavior, it’s best to look for alternative options.

How auto Transport Scams Work 

Car shipping scams occur when a consumer hires a fraudulent auto transport company. Scammers may take a deposit and disappear, hold the vehicle for ransom, damage the vehicle during transport, provide false or misleading information, or refuse to deliver the vehicle. It’s important to research the company, get everything in writing, be careful of lowball quotes, avoid upfront payments, and check your vehicle before and after transport to avoid falling victim to a scam.

Should you avoid brokers?

Brokers are a type of auto transport company that act as intermediaries between customers and carrier companies. They play a vital role in facilitating the transportation of vehicles by taking orders from customers and finding suitable carriers. However, one common concern that arises when considering brokers is the cost involved. Customers often wonder, “How much does it cost?” This is an important question to address, as it helps determine the financial aspect of hiring a broker. It’s worth noting that the cost can vary depending on various factors such as the distance, type of vehicle, and additional services required. To ensure a smooth and satisfactory experience, it is advisable to research and read reviews about brokers, verifying their credentials, licenses, and insurance coverage. By conducting due diligence, customers can make informed decisions and find legitimate brokers who offer transparent pricing and reliable services.

Steps To Take If You Are a Victim of a Car Shipping Scam

Report the scamContact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and file a complaint. You can also report the scam to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).Gather evidenceCollect any documents, emails, and phone records related to the scam. Take photos of the vehicle before and after transport and document any damages.Contact your bankIf you made any payments to the scammer, contact your bank immediately to report the fraud and try to stop any further payments.Contact your insurance companyIf you had insurance coverage for your vehicle, contact your insurance company to report the scam and see if they can assist you.Get a new quoteIf you have not yet shipped your vehicle, find a reputable auto transport company and get a new quote.Contact an attorneyIf you have suffered significant losses due to the scam, you may want to consider contacting an attorney for legal advice.

Recommended car shipping companies

Here are a few reputable car shipping companies that you can consider:

AutoStar Transport Express

This company has been in business for over a decade and offers door-to-door car shipping services. They are fully licensed, and insured and are registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).


This company is a broker that has been in the industry for over a decade and has a good reputation. They offer a variety of car shipping services and have a user-friendly website that allows you to track your vehicle during transport.


This company offers both open and enclosed car shipping and has been in business for over 16 years. They are fully licensed, insured, and registered with the FMCSA.


Auto transport scams can be costly and time-consuming, but by following these tips, you can avoid falling victim to one. Remember to research the company, get everything in writing, be careful of lowball quotes, avoid upfront payments, and check your vehicle before and after transport. By taking these steps, you’ll be able to have a smooth and stress-free experience.


How can I differentiate between a legitimate auto transport company and a scam?Legitimate companies possess the necessary licenses, insurance coverage, and a positive online presence. They provide transparent information, reasonable quotes, and clear terms and conditions. Are all low-priced quotes for auto transport scams?While not all low-priced quotes are scams, extremely low quotes that seem too good to be true are often associated with fraudulent practices. Exercise caution and thoroughly research the company before proceeding.What should I do if my vehicle gets damaged during transportation?Contact the auto transport company immediately and document the damages. Depending on the situation, you may be eligible for compensation based on the company’s insurance coverage.Can I track the progress of my vehicle during transportation?Many reputable auto transport companies offer tracking services that allow you to monitor the progress of your vehicle. Inquire about this feature before finalizing your decision. Is it necessary to have my vehicle inspected before and after transportation?Yes, it is essential to thoroughly inspect your vehicle both before handing it over for transportation and upon delivery. This helps document any damages and facilitates insurance claims, if necessary.

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