How To Avoid Auto Transport Scams
In the present day, scams are something you need to be aware of. Especially when you are shopping or buying goods & services online. The internet is a platform that is open to everyone and just like in the real world, people with both good & bad intentions have access to it. Anyone with a bit of computer skills can build a website with the intent to scam people out of their hard earned money. There have been more than a few instances of people getting duped out of their hard earned money by sham companies over the years.
This had led to mistrust & fear, rightfully so. But it is also frustrating to the many legitimate businesses that advertise and operate with the customers best interest at heart. This holds true within the auto transportation industry as well, which has embraced the online revolution and has exploded since the 90’s.
The internet has helped lower a companies overhead and opened more areas of income. As the internet became more mainstream, the word was spreading and the industry grew. 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 phony companies 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 using is legitimate.
Most scammers are somewhat tech savvy and are not in the position to spend money for a website design specialist to build them a fruitful website. They are usually creating websites themselves and are oftentimes in a hurry to make their site go live. Often leading to grammatical mistakes, stolen images, & misleading information.
Grammatical Mistakes: We’re referring to the English language here, but this holds true for any language. Grammatical mistakes are misspellings, run-on sentences, incorrect punctuation and sentences that make no sense within your native to tongue. Seeing as this is all a rouge to start profiting off of your misfortune, scammers are not putting thought into their work or how it even sounds to you. Usually writing the first thing that comes to mind and running with it. Don’t get me wrong, typos and mistakes can arise. We have seen some of the largest, most well known companies such as CNN, Fox, Disney & ESPN make small mistakes. But these are few and far in between. Scam sites not only will have frequent mistakes, but typically there will only be a few pages on the site with little t0 no information.
Stolen Images: There are 2 ways a company accesses images. Companies either take & upload their own photos or license photos through the various services out there. With modern day internet & social media, we have millions of people posting photos of their vacations, foods, cars, cats & anything else you can imagine. This holds true for corporations as well. Most companies with an online presence take photos of their work to share with their clients and potential customers. They are proud of the work they do & want to share it with the world. Licensing photos is another major way an established company can get photos that cater to their industry and services. Licensing photos is affordable, but it is not cheap. More often than not scammers are not dishing out the money to license the photos placed within their website & are using search engines such as Google & Bing to find the images they place on their website. These are usually generic images and a quick search can most likely yield you the same exact results. Be aware of this and if something doesn’t seem right, take the time to do a quick search to see if you can find the images original source. Google has made this quite simple. Simply go to the Images tab in Google and click the little camera icon in the search bar. Google than gives you the ability to upload an image from your computer or paste a URL. Upon search, Google will show you what it thinks the image is as well as some visually similar photos, but what we’re interested in is the “Pages That Include Matching Images” section. This will show you the authorized users of this image and who are using the photo illegally. This is called a “Reverse Image Search”.
Misleading Information: A website is used to sell a companies brand, product or services to you. A company wants to give you as much detailed information including phone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses, location address & credentials. There are some legitimate companies that will not display an address and these are usually nationwide, online only companies. This obviously isn’t a major issue. But typically sham website run by scammers will have minimal contact information and will post no credentials. In the auto transport industry, us legitimate companies are mandated to be an active entity registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A companies MC# (Motor Carrier Number) will be listed on a legitimate companies website for you to see.
Websites like Transport Reviews and MoveCars are great resources for spotting scam companies. They offer feedback from actual customers and are considered 2 of the best websites for auto transportation company reviews. They make sure they reviews are left by actual customers and not paid by a company to post reviews.
Transport Reviews also allows the companies on their website to respond to negative reviews and to share their side. This is important 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 left undisputed.
Though they tend not to last too long, they state on these sites regardless of whether or not they are active. The best companies tend to have a lot of good reviews with some negative ones mixed in and responded to. This shows that the shipping company is active in their communications with past, current and potential customers.
Aside from a website, legitimate companies should have a moderate to exorbitant online presence. You should be able to find company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YP, Yelp and many of the other social platforms out there. Note that all companies do not utilize all these service, but majority do. If they’re not utilizing all they are more than likely utilizing some. When a company is running a legitimate business, they want to be able to reach as many potential customers as possible and in modern day, there is no better way of doing so than having an online presence. Most scammers will not take the time to create a presence on multiple platforms, solely focusing on one area and living off their website. If a scammer does setup shop on other platforms, it is almost assured that they are not utilizing the service to potential and will more often than not have limited followers, information, posts & engagements. Be aware of a companies presence. It will say a lot about who they are… Or who they aren’t.
Better Business Bureau
Most people turn to the Better Business Bureau or the (BBB) for answers and feedback on a company. This can be a positive & negative. The Better Business Bureau operates as a for profit business & in most times can have misleading information on their website. About a year after a company established a profile on the Better Business Bureau, they can expect to receive a call from an agent representing the BBB. This is a sales tactic. If a company has a negative review, the sales rep will try to sell a package to have all negative listings removed (for a hefty fee) and if the company has been given great reviews with an organic “A Grade”, the rep will try to sell that company on a package involving stickers & decals for their shops & vehicles and give you them an “Accredited Business” stamp of approval. I do not want to sound like the BBB can not be trusted, I just want to shed light on the fact that it is a for profit business that does not always look at the facts when making their decisions and that it is as easy as spending money to have negative reviews disappear.
Active & Authorized Entity
Aside from a flashy website & an online presence, brokers and carriers alike are required to be an active and authorized entity registered with the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA). Transport companies are required to be active entities in order to ship and process freight. The FMCSA has made it easy to search any company by Name, DOT or MC# and lists their authorization status as well as all other helpful information. You can do a quick and free search here. Scammers are not taking the time or spending the money to become a registered entity. Do yourself a favor and know who you are jumping into bed with.
There are many other ways to figure out whether or not a shipping company is legitimate. These are some of the most common warning signs that scammers frequently show. If you suspect a company is not being completely honest or they are not who they claim to be, do not ship with them.
Fortunately, the world is catching up to the online boom that came in like the perfect storm. Each and every year, large corporations, law enforcement and the government takes actions and measures to best make the online community a safer, smarter & more pleasant place to browse & shop. Major advancements have been made within the last couple years alone to combat fraud and it continues to get better. White we can never eliminate scams entirely, we can do what is best to make it harder, more expensive & less efficient for these bottom feeders to boom. There are plenty of legitimate companies out there looking to do right by others while turning a profit. These are the people who will keep the world in motion in all industries and ways of life.
If you want to use a quality, legitimate company to ship your vehicle or commodity, you can rely on Millennium Transport Corp. We are fully licensed, insured and bonded and work only with top-rated, licensed and insured carriers. We treat our customers & our working relationships with the utmost pride & care. We don’t want you to feel like a paycheck. We want you to feel like family, in hopes that if you are ever in need of our services again you will know who to call. You can request a quote directly on our website or you can call in and speak with a seasoned professional at (800) 790-5325. Go on, Discover the Millennium Difference for Yourself.
Millennium Transport Corp.
P: (800) 790-5325
Your World In Motion