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auto transport carrying new fiat cars in european 2022 02 15 20 18 07 utc

How to Transport Your Car and Not Get Scammed

Updated: June 30, 2022

Usually, when transporting a car from one place to another, you typically just get in and drive. But if you need to travel over a thousand miles (or perhaps to another state), you might want to hire an auto transportation company. But the industry of shipping cars from state to state is too often coupled with lies, frauds, and scams. That’s why we wanted to make this post, so you can learn how to transport your car without getting scammed.

Choosing the Right Company

Your car or truck is probably one of the most expensive things you own, and you own one probably because you need it, right? So, it follows that you should be careful with what company gets the keys. Make sure you’re handing over your vehicle to a properly licensed business. Research its legality and trustworthiness, and don't make a purchase based on a low price or a smooth-talking salesperson. Here are some things you can do to check out an auto transportation outfit:

  • Gather information about the company. This includes the full company name including any DBAs (Doing-Business-As), addresses, and phone numbers both local and toll-free. A trustworthy company will provide you with their street address, suite number, and city without hesitation. If there’s an address listed, search it on Google Maps to see if it’s true. If they can only give you a P.O. Box, that’s a big warning sign for you.

  • Check the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a great place to evaluate a company's legitimacy because it keeps track of contact information, complaints, and how long it’s been in busines


  • Check for legal registrations. All vehicle transporters must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). The company must have a motor carrier number (MC#) and a USDOT number.
passenger cars transporting in the ferry 2022 04 20 19 19 22 utc
  • Check their website. A scammer is very likely going to develop their website in a rush and on a poor budget. You’ll observe evidence of this with grammatical errors. A legitimate business would evaluate its website for errors. Also, validate that the website uses SSL (secure socket layers) protocol to secure transferred payments and communication. Check this link-KeyFactor to find out how to validate a website's SSL.

  • Check payment methods. A vehicle transport scam website will request payment via MoneyGram or Western Union for their services since the money is made via a non-traceable wire transfer. A reputable business will request payment via bank transfer, credit or debit card, cashier's check, or PayPal since in the event of fraud, these transactions are easily traceable. Also, if the company requests your credit card or Social Security number, this is a major red flag. This information will never be requested by a legitimate company (SGT Auto Transport).


  • Read reviews. Reading auto transport reviews is an essential part of your investigation. There are various popular review sites online like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Yellow pages, Manta, and many more. Consider checking the ratio of negative to positive feedback and observing how the company responded to angry or dissatisfied customers. The way a business handles problems is just as significant as having a long list of positive auto transport reviews. Don’t, however, let it discourage you if the company has a few complaints. No company is perfect, and not every customer is easy to please.


  • Find out if they have company-owned trucks and drivers. A transport company and a broker are two different things. "Direct carriers" are transporters who use their vehicles and drivers to transport cars from one area to another. Brokers are supposed to be trustworthy middlemen between customers and shippers, but some simply contract with the lowest bidder and pocket the difference (InterstateCarTransport). Be cautious of establishing a shipping contract with a firm that does not have its trucks or drivers. 


  • Scrutinize low fees. Low fees are not always good when transporting your vehicle. Validate the fine print of their terms to discover what extra fees are included in their services. If you call the company for clarification, you may discover that they are eager to sell you "upgrades" to standard services that are already included in other companies' quotations.


  • Read and analyze their terms and conditions. Ask questions if you don't understand something in the terms. If you get questionable replies or avoidance techniques, it's time to find someone else to transport your car.

No one wants a company with poor and mediocre service. Choosing a company will always be according to your taste. But always remember to check for the legitimacy and reliability of the company.

passenger cars transporting in the ferry 2022 04 20 19 19 22 utc
passenger cars transporting in the ferry 2022 04 20 19 19 22 utc

Choosing the Right Company

Your car or truck is probably one of the most expensive things you own, and you own one probably because you need it, right? So, it follows that you should be careful with what company gets the keys. Make sure you’re handing over your vehicle to a properly licensed business. Research its legality and trustworthiness, and don't make a purchase based on a low price or a smooth-talking salesperson. Here are some things you can do to check out an auto transportation outfit:

  • Gather information about the company. This includes the full company name including any DBAs (Doing-Business-As), addresses, and phone numbers both local and toll-free. A trustworthy company will provide you with their street address, suite number, and city without hesitation. If there’s an address listed, search it on Google Maps to see if it’s true. If they can only give you a P.O. Box, that’s a big warning sign.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a great place to evaluate a company's legitimacy because it keeps track of contact information, complaints, and how long it’s been in business


  • Check for legal registrations. All vehicle transporters must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA). The company must have a motor carrier number (MC#) and a USDOT number.


  • Check their website. A scammer is very likely going to develop their website in a rush and on a poor budget. You’ll observe evidence of this with grammatical errors. A legitimate business would evaluate its website for errors. Also, validate that the website uses SSL (secure socket layers) protocol to secure transferred payments and communication. Check this link-KeyFactor to find out how to validate a website's SSL.


  • Check payment methods. A vehicle transport scam website will request payment via MoneyGram or Western Union for their services since the money is made via a non-traceable wire transfer. A reputable business will request payment via bank transfer, credit or debit card, cashier's check, or PayPal since in the event of fraud, these transactions are easily traceable. Also, if the company requests your credit card or Social Security number, this is a major red flag. This information will never be requested by a legitimate company (SGT Auto Transport).


  • Read reviews. Reading auto transport reviews is an essential part of your investigation. There are various popular review sites online like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Yellow pages, Manta, and many more. Consider checking the ratio of negative to positive feedback and observing how the company responded to angry or dissatisfied customers. The way a business handles problems is just as significant as having a long list of positive auto transport reviews. Don’t, however, let it discourage you if the company has a few complaints. No company is perfect, and not every customer is easy to please.


  • Find out if they have company-owned trucks and drivers. A transport company and a broker are two different things. "Direct carriers" are transporters who use their vehicles and drivers to transport cars from one area to another. Brokers are supposed to be trustworthy middlemen between customers and shippers, but some simply contract with the lowest bidder and pocket the difference (InterstateCarTransport). Be cautious of establishing a shipping contract with a firm that does not have its trucks or drivers. 


  • Scrutinize low fees. Low fees are not always good when transporting your vehicle. Validate the fine print of their terms to discover what extra fees are included in their services. If you call the company for clarification, you may discover that they are eager to sell you "upgrades" to standard services that are already included in other companies' quotations.


  • Read and analyze their terms and conditions. Ask questions if you don't understand something in the terms. If you get questionable replies or avoidance techniques, it's time to find someone else to transport your car.

No one wants a company with poor and mediocre service. Choosing a company will always be according to your taste. But always remember to check for the legitimacy and reliability of the company.

All vehicle transporters must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).

Working with Your Chosen Company

When you’ve chosen a company, your investigation doesn't end there. There are still some things you should do:

  • Read every detail. Reading the contract is still necessary. If you skim and sign, you may have no recourse if you are charged additional fees when the car is delivered or if your vehicle is damaged and the company's insurance won't cover the charges. Also, check the policies of the transporters for information on how to report damage and how to get reimbursed if repairs are necessary. Even the most reputable companies cannot prevent every possible problem, so knowing you have options if something goes wrong is critical. 
customer using credit card reader at store 2022 03 08 01 34 54 utc

All vehicle transporters must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).

Working with Your Chosen Company

When you’ve chosen a company, your investigation doesn't end there. There are still some things you should do:

  1. Read every detail. Reading the contract is still necessary. If you skim and sign, you may have no recourse if you are charged additional fees when the car is delivered or if your vehicle is damaged and the company's insurance won't cover the charges.
customer using credit card reader at store 2022 03 08 01 34 54 utc

Also, check the policies of the transporters for information on how to report damage and how to get reimbursed if repairs are necessary. Even the most reputable companies cannot prevent every possible problem, so knowing you have options if something goes wrong is critical. 

  • Beware of large deposit payments. When the company asks for a large deposit even before they even start to transport your vehicle, be cautious with this. A legitimate company usually only asks for partial payment (or deposit) before the service is done (Montway). Also, check the policies of the transporters for information on how to report damage and how to get reimbursed if repairs are necessary. Even the most reputable companies cannot prevent every possible problem, so knowing you have options if something goes wrong is critical. 


  • Beware of abrupt and quick scheduling. Auto transport scheduling is a time-consuming procedure. If you hire a transport company, they must contact carriers in their network to identify one that fulfills your requirements. There is a strong demand for auto transport services, especially during peak seasons, and this is the reason why it often takes time to schedule a pickup. If you receive a call or an email claiming that a carrier can pick up your vehicle in a matter of hours, be cautious because it may be a fraud.


  •  Know your driver. Never give an auto transport company a deposit until you have the carrier details along with reliable contact information. Some companies try to secure deposits before providing you with the carrier details to soak more money from you. Having the driver`s contact information gives you the capability to get in touch with him/her when necessary.


  •  Speak to the driver. To check the service is legitimate, and to track the status of the transportation, contact the driver. It's always a good idea to have the driver's contact information on hand in case of a delay. Also, check the policies of the transporters for information on how to report damage and how to get reimbursed if repairs are necessary. Even the most reputable companies cannot prevent every possible problem, so knowing you have options if something goes wrong is critical.


  • Beware of large deposit payments. When the company asks for a large deposit even before they even start to transport your vehicle, be cautious with this. A legitimate company usually only asks for partial payment (or deposit) before the service is done (Montway).


  • Beware of abrupt and quick scheduling. Auto transport scheduling is a time-consuming procedure. If you hire a transport company, they must contact carriers in their network to identify one that fulfills your requirements. There is a strong demand for auto transport services, especially during peak seasons, and this is the reason why it often takes time to schedule a pickup. If you receive a call or an email claiming that a carrier can pick up your vehicle in a matter of hours, be cautious because it may be a fraud.


  •  Know your driver. Never give an auto transport company a deposit until you have the carrier details along with reliable contact information. Some companies try to secure deposits before providing you with the carrier details to soak more money from you. Having the driver`s contact information gives you the capability to get in touch with him/her when necessary.


  •  Speak to the driver. To check the service is legitimate, and to track the status of the transportation, contact the driver. It's always a good idea to have the driver's contact information on hand in case of a delay.
handsome man checks the engine in his car 2022 02 02 05 09 40 utc

Keep a Record of Your Car’s Condition

Your car's condition before and after the transport should be the same. Before any transport, whether by land or sea, here are the things you should do:

  1. Inspect all interior and exterior parts of the entire vehicle and write down any defects. Take photos. 
  2. Note the mileage on the odometer and confirm it by taking a picture.
  3. Ask your transporter to look at your car as well, and take note of any damages that he/she sees.
handsome man checks the engine in his car 2022 02 02 05 09 40 utc

 Be Aware of These Scams

  • Fly By Night Companies- Car transporters need to have a certain minimum amount of insurance coverage as required by a government agency called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as part of their registration. To check a company's legitimacy, ask for their motor carrier number. If they don’t have one, they’re not legit. If they give you a license number, double-check it by plugging the number into the FMCA’s website (FMCA) which tells you if they’re properly registered and if they’re carrying the required levels of insurance.

  • Unknown Drivers- Some auto transport companies are not direct carriers. They are brokers who find other companies to do the work for them. Sometimes, they make money by taking the difference between what they charge from you, and what they pay to the transporter. This is not a scam, but it becomes a scam in the way they go about securing drivers for jobs. When the broker wants a deposit first before they give the carrier information, run away.

 Be Aware of These Scams

  • Fly By Night Companies- Car transporters need to have a certain minimum amount of insurance coverage as required by a government agency called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as part of their registration. To check a company's legitimacy, ask for their motor carrier number. If they don’t have one, they’re not legit. If they give you a license number, double-check it by plugging the number into the FMCA’s website (FMCA) which tells you if they’re properly registered and if they’re carrying the required levels of insurance.

  •  The Bait-and-Switch Scam- This is the MOST typical sort of car transport scam, in which the company promises to transport your car for a very low price. Then, when it comes to relocating your car, they try to collect more money, sometimes on the very day. You must move!


  • The Up-Sell Auto Transport Scam- The company oftentimes has a nice website and the cheap prices are interesting and notable. When the service is availed by a customer, the company picks up the car, then the customer receives a call from the company informing them that the price has changed for a variety of reasons. However, if the customer refuses to pay, they’ll hold his/her vehicle until he/she agrees to pay the higher amount, effectively holding a car hostage.
  •  The Bait-and-Switch Scam- This is the MOST typical sort of car transport scam, in which the company promises to transport your car for a very low price. Then, when it comes to relocating your car, they try to collect more money, sometimes on the very day. You must move!


  • The Up-Sell Auto Transport Scam- The company oftentimes has a nice website and the cheap prices are interesting and notable. When the service is availed by a customer, the company picks up the car, then the customer receives a call from the company informing them that the price has changed for a variety of reasons. However, if the customer refuses to pay, they’ll hold his/her vehicle until he/she agrees to pay the higher amount, effectively holding a car hostage.
hands of a middle aged woman holding a credit card 2022 02 16 03 42 11 utc 1

If you receive a call or an email claiming that a carrier can pick up your vehicle in a matter of hours, be cautious because it may be a fraud.


  • Unknown Drivers- Some auto transport companies are not direct carriers. They are brokers who find other companies to do the work for them. Sometimes, they make money by taking the difference between what they charge from you, and what they pay to the transporter. This is not a scam, but it becomes a scam in the way they go about securing drivers for jobs. When the broker wants a deposit first before they give the carrier information, run away.
hands of a middle aged woman holding a credit card 2022 02 16 03 42 11 utc 1

If you receive a call or an email claiming that a carrier can pick up your vehicle in a matter of hours, be cautious because it may be a fraud.

  • The Up-Sell Auto Transport Scam- The company oftentimes has a nice website and the cheap prices are interesting and notable. When the service is availed by a customer, the company picks up the car, then the customer receives a call from the company informing them that the price has changed for a variety of reasons. However, if the customer refuses to pay, they’ll hold his/her vehicle until he/she agrees to pay the higher amount, effectively holding a car hostage.


  • Unknown Drivers- Some auto transport companies are not direct carriers. They are brokers who find other companies to do the work for them. Sometimes, they make money by taking the difference between what they charge from you, and what they pay to the transporter. This is not a scam, but it becomes a scam in the way they go about securing drivers for jobs. When the broker wants a deposit first before they give the carrier information, run away.
hands of a middle aged woman holding a credit card 2022 02 16 03 42 11 utc 1

If you receive a call or an email claiming that a carrier can pick up your vehicle in a matter of hours, be cautious because it may be a fraud.

sad woman client with auto mechanic at the car ser 2021 11 12 23 07 41 utc

What To Do If You've Been Scammed

When you fall victim to scams or find yourself negotiating with a dubious auto transport company, you can do these five things:

  • Contact the transport company. Get things clarified with them. If you booked through a broker, the transport company possibly isn’t the company you booked through. That's why it’s important to get the correct contact info of the driver for emergencies or problematic issues. If the company refuses to speak with you, it's time to contact your credit card company and request a chargeback. But make sure that you have been scammed, and you didn’t just fail to read the terms and conditions. If the contract requires you to forfeit a cancellation fee, the credit card company will reverse the chargeback after an investigation. Expect this to be a lengthy process, though your credit card issuer may credit your account before the investigation is completed.


sad woman client with auto mechanic at the car ser 2021 11 12 23 07 41 utc

What To Do If You've Been Scammed

When you fall victim to scams or find yourself negotiating with a dubious auto transport company, you can do these five things:

What To Do If You've Been Scammed

When you fall victim to scams or find yourself negotiating with a dubious auto transport company, you can do these five things:

  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The commission has a section on their website where there are tips on how to get your money back and better protect yourself from future scams. They can't resolve individual complaints, but they can use your report to investigate and bring cases against fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Companies that make deceptive claims regarding a service can be sued by the FTC, and a lawsuit could lead to a refund for those who were affected.

  • Contact your state Attorney General’s office. Many AG offices include consumer protection units that can assist in resolving commercial complaints.

  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB may mediate the disagreement and may award monetary compensation to the customer.

  • Write a review. Use social media or platforms like Yelp and Google to warn others about a fraudulent auto transportation business.
  • Contact the transport company. Get things clarified with them. If you booked through a broker, the transport company possibly isn’t the company you booked through. That's why it’s important to get the correct contact info of the driver for emergencies or problematic issues. If the company refuses to speak with you, it's time to contact your credit card company and request a chargeback. But make sure that you have been scammed, and you didn’t just fail to read the terms and conditions. If the contract requires you to forfeit a cancellation fee, the credit card company will reverse the chargeback after an investigation. Expect this to be a lengthy process, though your credit card issuer may credit your account before the investigation is completed.


  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The commission has a section on their website where there are tips on how to get your money back and better protect yourself from future scams. They can't resolve individual complaints, but they can use your report to investigate and bring cases against fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Companies that make deceptive claims regarding a service can be sued by the FTC, and a lawsuit could lead to a refund for those who were affected.

  • Contact your state Attorney General’s office. Many AG offices include consumer protection units that can assist in resolving commercial complaints.

  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB may mediate the disagreement and may award monetary compensation to the customer.

  • Write a review. Use social media or platforms like Yelp and Google to warn others about a fraudulent auto transportation business.

Integrating the Ideas

Everyone wants a hassle-free auto transport experience. But to get it, one must be wise, vigilant, and knowledgeable enough to avoid scams. Let’s review a few of our tips:

  • Research and investigate each company. That means checking reviews, referencing the BBB, and verifying licenses.


  • Make sure that the vehicle’s interior and exterior parts of the entire vehicle are checked and list down observed defects. You must also take note of the mileage on the odometer and record it by taking photos, and even take for the entire vehicle as well. The vehicle`s condition must be the same before and after the transport.


  • Be aware of the auto transport scams and frauds like: “Fly By Night Companies” in which the company is not licensed to operate, “Unknown Drivers” which anomalies occur between the company and the broker, the “Bait-and-Switch” scam which cheap prices are presented at first and later on, additional charges are requested, and the “Up-Sell Auto Transport” scam in which you are forced to pay additional/hidden charges since your vehicle can`t be released without payment.


  • It is necessary to know what to do in the event of encountering scams or even when you have fallen into them. When you`re a verified victim, contact the transport company you were dealing with. Next, you can report and file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, to your Attorney General`s office and to Better Business Bureau. Finally, you can write a review on social media and review platforms to warn other potential clients.


Always remember that it’s better to spend more time on company research than to spend a miserable amount of time dealing with a car held hostage or a bait-and-switch scam. Even when we try our best to be vigilant, we can still be deceived. That said, it pays to know of the snares within the auto transport industry. While many companies do business honestly, we hope this article will help you avoid the ones that don’t. 

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