The world's premier anti internet scam, anti fraud information blog


Common Used Car Scams You Need To Avoid

Used Car Scams

Used car sales have bloomed onto various online trading sites, much like any other asset, as we can all agree that it is convenient to shop online. But when you enter the online market, the risk of being scammed arises, especially when you buy directly from the car’s owner or used car sales lot, rather than a reputable dealership. Successful scammers are always trying to find new and creative ways to scam people, looking to get your money by selling a non-existent car, or selling a car that is in bad condition. Either way, you do not want to fall into that position. This article will help you identify used car scams and how to avoid them!

How to Identify Used Car Scammers:

To avoid scammers, you first have to be able to identify them. Here are four ways on how to identify used car scammers:

  1. Identify Repetitive Images of the Same Car Across Different Websites

    Scammers are lazy. When they create online sale posts, they will often copy the same image of the car that they are “selling” (from a real car sale post), and use it to expand their market across multiple cities and other online websites. To check if a posting is authentic, copy the image of the car and paste it on Google Reverse Image Search. If the car shows up on multiple sites with different details on the posting, then you can be sure that it is a fake!

  2. Scammers are Usually Reluctant to Meet You in Person

    If you have found a car of your interest, arrange to meet up with the buyer to have a look at the car. If the salesperson gives you excuses for not seeing you in person, or flatly refuses to meet with you, then they are most likely a scammer. If this happens to you, then you should stop contacting the person. You can also search for a vehicle history report, to see if the car that is for sale is actually listed.

  3. Curbstone Dealers Are Riskier Than Licensed Dealers

    Curbstone dealers pose as private dealers to sell used cars to avoid the legal agreements that licensed dealers have – such as warrantees or guarantees. If you find a car dealer online that is not licensed, then there is a risk that the posting by that dealer could be a scam. Some dealers even pretend to be licensed. It is tricky to distinguish between licensed dealer and a fake, especially if the postings look authentic. This is where you can keep the Google Image Reverse Search in mind, should you feel unsure!

  4. Be Wary of Sob-Stories

    Dealers often create stories about why they need to urgently sell their car. Maybe they are in debt and will be relocated if they do not get the money! They emotionally influence you into making a quick decision to buy the car. Sometimes they use a hard-sell approach, and mention how their car is in ‘high demand’ and so they ‘can’t wait around’ much longer, pressuring you into buying it quickly without room to reflect on your decisions.

How to Avoid Scammers:

Now that you can identify a potential scammer, take these steps to avoid being scammed:

  1. Ask a Car-Mechanic to Have a Look at the Car Before Buying it.

    If you do not have a lot of experience with cars, then you might not notice minimal parts that may be missing or out of order, whether you look at pictures online or look at the car in person. A mechanic will be able to identify if the car will be working correctly and if it accurately fits its description that would have been provided to you by the dealer.

  2. Buy Through a Secure Site, Like Escrow

    Secure sites, like Escrow, are there to make sure that your transactions with online purchases are safe and scam free. They reduce the risk of fraud, by acting as third-party to collect funds, store them and then only release them when both buyers and sellers are satisfied. It acts as a trusting party to protect buyers and sellers with their financial transactions. Should anything go wrong with your purchase, then Escrow can return the money back to you.

  3. Avoid Shipment if Possible

    If some buyers are looking to purchase overseas, then arranging for shipment of the car will often occur only upon receipt of payment. This poses a risk for buyers if they purchase through a scammer, as when the money is transferred and collected, the “seller” breaks contact and disappears. The buyer ends up paying for a car that doesn’t arrive. So, in general it is better to shop locally, where you can avoid shipping complications and you can also then see the car before buying it.

  4. Avoid Deposits Where Possible

    Sometimes car scammers will ask for a small deposit to secure your order for the vehicle, but then when you pay the deposit, they break contact with you. This often happens on large online trading sights like Craigslist.

Remember, always stay vigilant. If you think that you might have been scammed, then call the SSA Fraud Hotline on 1-800-269-0271. You can also upload your incident on a Scam Warning website in order to warn others!