Summer is a busy season for moving, and scammers often take advantage of the trend for their own benefit. While finding the right moving company to help pack, transport and deliver your household goods is stressful, adding vehicle transport can make the process even more challenging. Fraudulent shipping and logistics companies are used in various scams that involve transporting high-priced or bulky items, often stealing thousands of dollars from those unlucky enough to encounter them. If you are planning an upcoming move that involves transporting a vehicle, keep an eye out for this scam.
How the scam works
After discovering the moving company you are using for your household goods does not provide a service to transport your vehicles, you begin to search online for a company offering this service. After browsing a few companies, you find one offering a great deal. All you have to do is send them a deposit of a few hundred dollars, usually via a digital wallet service.
On the day of your scheduled pickup, no one arrives to load your vehicle, and when you attempt to contact the company, your calls go unanswered, or excuses are made and the date is pushed back. Many consumers believe that an honest mistake was made or something occurred that was outside of the company’s control, like a broken vehicle, so they alter their plans to adjust for the new pickup date. Depending on the timeframe for moving, some consumers may have already handed the keys to their previous home to new owners, requiring them to make quick, and often costly, changes to their flight or lodging plans so they can accommodate the new pickup date. Unfortunately, on the day of the rescheduled pickup date, no one arrives again and the whole process repeats itself until, eventually, the company stops answering your calls.
In another version of this scam that a few consumers reported to BBB Scam Tracker, the shipping company did transport their vehicles, but an even more concerning problem presented itself when they attempted to retrieve the vehicle. Essentially holding the car, truck, or motorcycle hostage, the company demands more money than was previously agreed upon or claims they could not process previous payments.
How to avoid vehicle transport scams
- Do thorough research to find a reputable shipping company. When it comes to expensive services and important, high-dollar possessions, doing research is critical. Plenty of reputable transport companies are out there for you to find. Look for companies with verifiable contact information, good customer service, and reviews on third-party websites. Avoid companies that don’t have a website, are difficult to contact, or have poor or no reviews. A good place to start your research is right here on BBB.org.
- Watch out for deals that sound too good to be true. If a company quotes you a price significantly lower than the market value for a service or product, consider it a red flag. In this scam (and many others), scammers try to lure their victims with unrealistic prices.
- Think about how you make payments. Don’t forget that payments made through digital wallet apps are essentially cash payments. These services are designed to be used with people you trust and may not have the same protections to dispute charges as more traditional methods. Instead, pay with your credit card. It’s easier to contest fraudulent charges on your credit card. Also, never make payments for services by wiring money or with prepaid debit cards. Anyone who requests payment this way is probably a scammer.
For more information and tips when moving, visit BBB.org/Moving.