Buying a new vehicle is expensive, and people still feel the pinch brought on by the global pandemic. Sales of new cars fell by 12% in June compared to the same month a year ago, with passenger cars the hardest hit. If you rent a car, this mistake risks your data and money.
Trying to save money, many are turning to the used car market. But whenever something is in demand, crooks aren’t too far behind.
Read on to find out how thieves are ripping off used car shoppers and ways to avoid falling victim.
Here’s the backstory
Many people go through an authorized dealer to buy a new car. However, the second-hand vehicle market is an excellent option for selling your old car or finding a used one without hassling with dealerships.
But scammers know this and are turning online marketplaces into hunting grounds to make a quick buck. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that the high demand for used cars is leading to more scams than usual.
According to BBB, one elaborate scheme making the rounds is when someone lists a used car at an excellent price on platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or eBay.
When you contact the seller about the car, they claim it’s in another state and must be transported to you. Luckily, the scammer knows a transport company that can bring the vehicle to you for inspection or purchase. All you have to do is pay the transport costs.
Do you see where this is going? Yep. It’s a scam!
BBB said, “Once you’ve paid the third-party company, usually by a wire transfer or prepaid debit card, your vehicle won’t be delivered. The sale was a scam, and the con artist was in cahoots with the third-party transport company. Unfortunately, your money is gone for good.”
What you can do about it
Don’t be fooled by sob stories. According to the BBB, “many scammers will add a sad story meant to tug on your heartstrings” for why they are selling or where the vehicle is located.
If you’re looking to buy a used vehicle, stick with the old theory that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Common sense and not trusting deals that seem too good to be true is just one defense. Here are some suggestions from BBB to avoid falling victim to these types of used car scams:
- Watch out for prices that are too good to be true. It’s probably a scam. Scammers know that used cars are in high demand and will tempt shoppers with great deals.
- Contact the seller by phone. As early as possible, speak to the seller on the phone and ask plenty of questions. If you get very vague answers, if the seller gets defensive or aggressive, or if they can’t confirm their location or the location of the vehicle, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
- See the car before you buy it. Always make an in-person inspection and take a test drive before you purchase a vehicle.
- Don’t give in to threats or pressure. Resist the urge to act immediately. Always take time to consider a purchase, especially if it’s a vehicle that costs thousands of dollars.
- Don’t wire funds for a car. Scammers often ask for wired funds because they are hard to track, and there’s no way to get your money back. It’s best to make large purchases by check or credit card.
If you see a car sales scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker and to the online marketplace where you found it.