It’s no secret that the internet has made life a lot easier for many of us, but the downside is that it’s also made life easier for bad apples looking to make a quick buck online, perhaps in a ‘less than legal’ manner. AKA, Scammers.
These scammers target both buyers and sellers and are becoming more prevalent as time goes on. The Automotive (and car shipping) industry is no exception.
To combat this, we’d like to offer our advice to help you spot and avoid some common scams that involve car shipping – an avenue that many have to explore if they’re buying a car from abroad.
Before we go any further, the number one tip we can offer is to always contact your shipper directly using the number on their official website or facebook page.
All too often we are contacted by individuals who are under the impression we are holding a car or shipping a car that has been arranged by a third party ‘seller’.
More often than not, these cars are found through listings on eBay or other similar sites. If you’re buying a car off eBay, please make sure you buy from a reputable seller.
Some scammers may set up fake websites or send out fake quotations to convince people that companies such as Autoshippers have taken the car and are waiting for their payment. Again – always contact the shipper directly and on a number that is from an official source.
An easy way to do this is to simply google the name of the shipper involved which should bring you to their official website. This one simple step can help you avoid the majority of car shipping scams.
For reference, our only website is: www.autoshippers.co.uk
Some scammers set up sites with very similar URLs so please triple check the website address when visiting a site that claims to be Autoshippers or any other car shipping company.
With that out of the way, here are our 5 top tips to spot the car shipping scammers before you become a potential victim.
1. Bargain Car Prices and Deals
You know the mantra, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! This goes for both buyers and sellers. Many scammers give genuine reasons for offering such a good deal, stating for example that no-one wants to buy a European car in Australia or that Australian cars are very expensive and so it’s cheaper for them to buy yours and ship it over. No one is that generous to pay more than they have to, or let a car go for less than its market value, so be suspicious of ‘too good to be true’ offers.
2. Check the Credentials
If they give you an Australian address, look it up on Google and ask for a phone number you can call too. Scrutinise emails carefully and never accept emails from shipping companies that are from hotmail or any other email provider. Valid email addresses should bear the shipping companies name. Any email from Autoshippers will end in @shipit.co.uk OR @autoshippers.co.uk.
3. Never Accept Western Union or Moneygram Payments
There are plenty of ways for companies to transfer money and these days there is hardly a single person who does not have a bank account. In fact, you cannot live and work in most countries without a bank account. So insist on bank transfers or make sure that cheques are cleared before sending the goods.
4. Fake Shipping Websites
It’s very easy to duplicate a website and then change the contact details to your own. If you are sent a link to a website, always Google that company and then check that both website addresses match up. Call the company in question (search on Google for their number) and check the details with them.
5. Buying a Paper Car
Lastly, never part with money for a car you have not seen and never send a car until the money is safely in your bank (insist on waiting for cheques to clear). Real sellers and buyers don’t pressure you and won’t expect you to do anything you are not happy with.
If you have your suspicions about a potential car scammer then contact the Vehicle Safe Trading Group and if you suspect someone is using fraudulent car shipping company details, contact the company directly and inform them.
Read our post on common car shipping mistakes for more info about choosing the right shipping company.
Visit our car shipping scam information page for a more in depth look at how to spot and avoid common car shipping scams.