Top Tips to Avoid Car Buying Scams

November 19, 2020

eCommerce is continuously growing and car selling and buying has also moved over to the digital world.

Many drivers will still head to their closet dealerships for their next purchase, but buyers and sellers are shifting to online more and more.  

buy a car online

When it comes to online, we usually have a lot more choice, can browse hundreds of listings for both new and used cars and can instantly start advertising our cars for sale.  

However, we need to watch out for scammers as they are everywhere.

Here are our top tips to avoid car buying scams. 

Signs of a Scam

The first thing you need to know is what to watch out for. Car scams can come in various forms.

Here are the common signs of a car scam.

The Price is too Low 

If you have a particular car in mind, then you probably already know more or less what the market value for the vehicle is. If you find your dream car that is marked well below market value then watch out as this could be a scam.

Minimal Contact Details

Scammers will often provide minimal contact details. The phone number they do provide may go directly to voicemail or just rings and rings. They will also have an excuse as to why they are not available via phone. They may even claim that they are overseas.

They Want the Money

Many scammers will demand either the full price for the vehicle upfront or a deposit that they want you to transfer to them immediately. Once they have your money, you won’t be able to contact them.

Avoid Being Scammed by a Car Seller

There are several online car selling and buying sites out there, but you can’t trust them all.

You then need to ensure that you are using reputable sites with a proven track record. Cars2Sell, for instance, goes through considerable lengths to ensure that every vehicle advertised is a legitimate vehicle so that buyers can browse and buy with peace of mind.

Here is how to avoid being scammed by a car seller.

Don’t Give Over Your Cash

Never transfer your hard-earned cash before you have seen and verified the vehicle. You should meet the seller in person, preferably in a public place and see the car before you give them any money.

Check the Vehicle

Do your research and checks.

You should run a history check on the vehicle to ensure that it hasn’t been stolen.

Use the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN to look at the history of the vehicle and that the details match the number on the owner registration and roadworthy documents. Also, check that the VIN on the car has not been tampered with. You must also check the service history for the vehicle.  

The seller’s address should match the address on the registration and roadworthy documents.

Research the Value

Use other sites like CafeWheels and Cars2Sell to check the value of the vehicle. If the seller is selling at way below market value then it could be a scam.

Contact the Seller

Usually, scammers will prefer communication via email. However, you should always contact the seller via phone and speak with them. If you are unable to call the seller or get hold of them, then this is a red flag for a scam.

buy and sell a car

Avoid Being Scammed by a Car Buyer

Not only can you be scammed from the selling side, you can be scammed from the buyer side too. There are some basic rules you should follow so you don’t get scammed.

The Test Drive

Never allow a possible buyer to test drive the car on their own. Another person should always be present during a test drive.

Also, ensure that the buyer has a valid driver’s licence plus insurance to cover an accident if one occurs whilst on the test drive.  

Keep the Keys with You

Never leave the keys in the ignition or unattended. Criminals often use the key swap method to steal a car.

Be Wary of Payments

If the buyer pays by cheque, then wait for the cheque to clear and the amount is in your bank before you hand over the vehicle.

If the buyer wants to pay with cash, then meet the buyer at the bank where the money can be verified and you can deposit it immediately.  

Ensure that you have received the correct amount before you transfer the ownership and the vehicle.

If the car buyer doesn’t want to view the vehicle in person then be cautious as it could be a scam.

If you are in the market to buy or sell a car then watch out for car scams and be vigilant. If the deal doesn’t feel right from either side then rather walk away.

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