Fake car rental scams
Earlier this year, there were warnings in Federal Trade Commission (FTC) news about how car rental has become such a hot commodity this year. So much so that it resulted in a shortage of rental cars. And as a result, this in turn led to an increase in the number of scams from bogus rental companies that looked like the real thing and offered attractive deals with unusually low rental rates.
Long story short: it’s a common scam that asks people to prepay the rental with a gift card or prepaid debit card. The lesson here was to make sure that before renting from a suspicious car rental agency, check if it’s legitimate by:
• Search for the online car rental company using keywords in your search to include the name of the company or business as well as “scam”, “complaint” or “review” and see what activates on Google.
• Verification of agreements with the company’s customer service directly. Don’t rely on search engine results: Scammers can pay to place sponsored ads in search results at the top or in the sponsored ads section of search results. Instead, find the actual customer support contact details on the company’s website.
• Pay with a credit card if possible in person, and never pay with a gift card or prepaid debit card — once you fill in the number and PIN, the money is gone.
Real car rental company scams
While the FTC website focused on bogus car rental scams, what was interesting was a comment posted by someone asking whether legitimate car rental companies were guilty of defrauding their customers by bypassing the gray areas of car rental contracts.
According to the post published a few days ago:
It’s not a scam per se, but it’s a deceptive business practice: A few months before my trip, I booked a car with Enterprise through Expedia and the daily rate was around $ 70 per day. The week of my trip, I decided I wanted to pick up the car a day early. I called Enterprise and they told me there was no problem. However, when I got the car back, the daily rate was now more than double what I was originally told, not only for the extra day, but for the entire existing reservation as well. Apparently, when you change a reservation, they take the opportunity to change the entire reservation at the current daily rate.
It’s not surprising. Especially since I was recently the victim of a phone scam by a well-known health organization when making an appointment for medical treatment. I was told that by taking care of my hospital paperwork in advance over the phone, I wouldn’t have to wait and complete the typical “clipboard information dance” in the ward. wait, and that would get me in the doctor’s office faster by doing that.
A month later, I received an invoice that included a mysterious $ 100, even on my invoice, labeled as “convenience fees”. It took a while to figure this out, as no one in billing would admit being asked. Eventually, however, it turned out to be a trick to paying for “extra care” as part of my visit. In other words, it was the medical equivalent of a “Fast Pass” at Disney. Oh !
I walk away, but somehow feel better.
Back to car rental scams
It turns out that the published complaint about the unexpected Enterprise car rental charges is little potatoes compared to the far worse scams perpetrated by many rental car companies.
As I looked at car rental scams, I discovered how lucky I have been in the past. I knew enough to never take out insurance from a rental agency; and instead, I made sure I can use my personal auto insurance plan. Money saved — no?
Well… it all depends.
For my needs and the types of vehicles I usually rent, it works fine… but it’s still risky.
It turns out that there are exceptions to all agreements and wording used to deceive. For example, the words “coverage” and “insurance”, although used interchangeably by most of us, are two different things that are traps in agreements when something happens to the rented vehicle. Also, the definition (s) of “reckless or illegal driving” can mean pretty much anything the rental car wants… after something happens to the rental.
However, what if I ever rented a “luxury” or “exotic” vehicle from a car rental company. Of course, you can imagine that your insurance doesn’t cover this type of rental, but what if you rent a Ford Explorer? It could in fact qualify as an “Exotic” vehicle rental without you even realizing it, all because the fine print could define all vehicles with an MSRP over $ 50,000 as an “Exotic” vehicle. You can imagine the horror stories that can … and result from.
That said, for more information on this type of fraudulent practice by legitimate car rental companies, here is a very informative and revealing YouTube channel video from an exotic car rental business owner and creator of the. SuperSpeedersRob DVD series, Rob Ferretti, which explains how rental companies scam people with money.
If you’ve ever been scammed by a rental car service, please let us know in the comments section below. I’m pretty sure we’ve only scratched the surface of this problem for car enthusiasts and commuters in general.
For more articles on scams, check out The # 1 Used Car Scam Everyone Should Know About, and A Warning To Used Car Buyers About Certified Used Car (CPO) Scams.
Timothy Boyer is a Torque News automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced in early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for better performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily automotive related news.