Scams are always something you need to be wary of in today’s world, especially when it comes to shopping and purchasing things online. With the internet open to anyone who can build a website, the potential for scamming people out of their money is very high, and over the years there have been more than a few instances of people getting ripped off by sham companies that use their websites to lure in customers. This has led to a mindset of fear, which is certainly understandable but also frustrating for the many, many legitimate businesses that advertise and operate primarily over the internet. This is quite true in the auto transportation industry as well, which has embraced the online revolution and exploded since the early 1990’s, as the internet helped considerably in lowering a broker’s overhead costs and allowing for more income while decreasing spending, and as word spread the industry grew. Whereas only a few hundred brokers existed in 1990, today there are over two thousand nationwide, making the auto transport industry a breeding ground for scam artists to setup shop.
Fortunately, scams are not nearly as common as they were just fifteen years ago; there are now many safeguards in place to prevent unscrupulous shippers from stealing your money. But some are still out there, and more crop up every day, so we always recommend taking a few simple steps to make sure that a company you’re thinking of booking with is legitimate. For purposes of this article we’re going to assume that you found your broker online and have visited their website, as the internet is where they all advertise and most will have a website. If they don’t, it’s best to avoid them, and if you haven’t found any shipping companies yet we recommend you keep reading so you don’t have to learn any lessons the hard way.
1. Check their website.
Scam companies that operate websites often put them up in a hurry, and they don’t shell out a lot of money to make it happen. This often leads to many grammatical mistakes – mistakes that anyone familiar with their native language probably won’t make (and we’re referring to English here, as we’re speaking of auto transport companies within the U.S.). Typos can happen on occasion, particularly on the internet where even CNN and Huffington Post make small mistakes. But they’re few and far between. Scam sites not only will have frequent mistakes, but there will typically only be a few pages on the site and usually no contact information aside from maybe an e-mail (those that have none are to be considered scam companies immediately). You should also be able to see the company’s MC# (motor carrier number), as most all legit companies post it to their websites for their customers.
2. Check if they have a telephone number.
All auto transportation companies communicate over the phone – it’s the cheapest system to communicate via and allows for greater control and faster response times between brokers and carriers and customers. Scam companies, or people who operate fake websites, often won’t have a telephone number; those that do are a bit harder to spot, but all it takes is a simple phone call into the company to talk to a live person and get some information regarding the company. If they are unwilling to give you publicly-available information regarding their license to broker freight, motor carrier number, any type of information that is available to the general public, really, you may want to put them on the “scam” list and move on.
3. Check their reviews.
Websites like Transport Reviews are great resources for spotting scam companies because they offer feedback from actual customers, and Transport Reviews is considered the best site for auto transporter reviews because they make sure the customers are actual customers and not paid by the companies to post reviews. They also allow the companies on their website to respond to negative reviews and tell their side – an important tactic, as it gives legitimate companies a chance to explain to everyone what was going on. Scam companies typically have few reviews that are all negative and undisputed. Though they tend to not last too long, they stay on the site regardless of whether or not they’re active. The best companies tend to have lots of good reviews with some negative ones sprinkled in and responded to – this shows that the shipping company is active in their communications with past, current and potential customers.
4. Check the Better Business Bureau.
Being a member of the Better Business Bureau is not required of any business. However, legitimate companies will often make the effort and jump through the hoops required to become a certified Better Business Bureau member, and that says a lot about the integrity of a company by itself. The BBB is a great tool to use to check the legitimacy of any shipping company because it keeps records of BBB complaints, contact information, how long they’ve been active, how long they’ve been a BBB member. The car shipping industry has a lot of turnover – many start-ups don’t survive the first year, as freight is hard to come by and harder to book. It’s a competitive industry, and the longer a shipping company has been in business typically the better they are.
Of course, there are other ways to figure out whether or not a shipping company is a legitimate shipping company, but these are some of the most common warning signs that scam companies frequently show. If you suspect a company is not being completely honest or if they are not who they claim to be, don’t ship with them. If you decide to fill out our free online form to get free quotes from different shipping companies, you can rest assured that all our shippers are completely legitimate. There may be some without a website, but in this case they don’t necessarily need one as they use us for most all their advertising, though most will regardless. If you have questions or concerns about our website or any of our advertisers, feel free to call us toll-free at 800-930-7417 to speak to a real live person who can answer your questions and dispel any myths, rumors or misconceptions you may have about the enigmatic industry known as auto transport.