When it comes to used car scams, there's always someone out there cooking up something. Whether you're in the market for a vehicle or selling a car privately, we have a few pointers on how to protect yourself.
Crisis Times Are Ripe for Scammers
As if there isn't enough going on in the world today, scammers are now taking advantage of the anonymity created by social distancing and the "new normal" of virtual channels. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has seen an uptick in the number of scams run on people already troubled by the impact of the coronavirus in the U.S.
Many of these scams have to do with identity theft; scammers are constantly coming up with ways to part people from their hard-earned money. The coronavirus pandemic has seen people attempting to fraudulently collect stimulus checks, and selling products that claim to treat or protect you against the virus.
In times like these, another issue you have to watch out for are individuals out to scam you when buying or selling a vehicle.
Sometimes, scams are easy to spot, like a phone call claiming to be from the government asking you to pay them. Others scams, like an official looking email that only asks you to verify a few items, aren't so easy to recognize.
Watch Out for Used Car Scams
Instances like these are always on the radar of organizations like the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but it's up to you to watch for signs of scams that cross your path.
Here are just a few things to watch for when you're buying a car from a private seller:
- Bad reviews – It's always a good idea to check consumer reviews whether you're buying from a private seller or a dealership. A lack of positive entries, or an excess number of positive or negative comments should be a red flag.
- A rushed sale – When a seller tries to rush you through a sale, doesn't let you get a word in, and talks non-stop without actually answering any of your questions, they might be trying to frustrate you and keep you from finding out too many details.
- Refusing to meet – This red flag may be having a resurgence due to the social distancing practices many people practice thanks to COVID-19. Under normal circumstances, if a seller refuses to meet with you in person, or repeatedly cancels planned meetups, be wary.
- Won't allow you to inspect the vehicle – Never purchase a used car without having it inspected by a certified mechanic. If a seller or dealer refuses, walk away.
- VIN doesn't match – If you're shopping for a vehicle online, or with a private seller, you can typically find the vehicle identification number (VIN) listed. Make sure that the VIN you're given matches the VIN on the car you see in person.
- Seller asks for more money than agreed – If you agree to purchase a vehicle and the seller then demands additional money, be wary. Scammers usually ask for money to cover delivery fees or transportation costs, or may tell you a car that was promised is now coming from overseas.
- Seller doesn't want to accept cash or check for payment – If someone requests payment for a vehicle that doesn't sound legitimate, such as in gift cards or by wire transfer, don't trust them.
There are as many scams out there as people can dream up, so be vigilant when you're buying a car.
On the flip side, you also have to be careful when you're selling a vehicle. These days, social distancing and a face mask – both recommended to protect your health – can be taken advantage of by scammers. It can be hard to verify someone's identity if they won't remove a face mask, or if they give you the runaround when you're trying to set up a safe way to conduct a transaction.
A Better Solution for Car Buying
Though scams can come from anywhere, if you're dealing with poor credit already, it's in your best interest to get your next car through a dealership you can trust. You're more likely to find a lender to work with if you shop at a special finance dealer.
Auto Credit Express is teamed up with a nationwide network of special finance dealers, and want to get you connected to one in your area. To get the fast and free process started today, just fill out our no-obligation auto loan request form.