Saving time and money is something we are constantly trying to do by cutting corners, but it can get you into some serious trouble when you opt to buy a car on Craigslist.
If you know you have bad credit and you need a car fast you may choose to go to the internet to start your car buying experience. Using reputable sites like Auto Credit Express, that work with real auto lenders, dealerships, and financial specialists could save you hundreds or thousands on a new car, but using sites like Craigslist could do just the opposite. Cars are a big expense to take on and the last thing you want is to be scammed out of your money.
Automotive sales is a big market and has the potential to make a lot of money, and whenever there is big money involved, crooks and frauds are not far behind. We have compiled a list of common Craigslist car buying scams to avoid when you're conducting your searches. These will help you be a smart shopper and not be taken for a fool.
Unbelievable Low Prices
If you see a vehicle listed at an exceptionally low price, it's most likely going to be a scam, but unfortunately, this is not the interested party's first thought. They see the price and they are thrilled that they can get such a 'great deal' and they immediately start making out the check. What usually happens is that car is either extremely beaten up and not drivable, or the seller ends up robbing the buyer of their money when meeting to pick up a fake car.
This is easily avoidable, however, when you use sites like Kelley Blue Book and National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA). They have guides and calculators available that will help you to determine what the real price of the car being sold should be. If the asking price is way under the price given to you on these sites, or way over for that matter, it's clear you're being scammed. These sites use the age, mileage, condition, and extra features to calculate how much a private seller and a dealership should be asking for it, and the prices on Craigslist shouldn't stray too far from it.
It may not always be noticeable but sometimes scammers will reuse photos from car buying sites or from a dealership's used car inventory on their website. These photos can make the car look like it's in better condition than it really is, or there could be no car at all, and they are just trying to make you believe there is. If you're even the least bit skeptical, you can try to find more information about where the picture came from or ask the seller specifically to send you additional photos of the vehicle.
If the seller starts making excuses as to why they don't have any more pictures or can't get you any it's likely a scam. Any car owner should be able to take a picture of it at any given time, so if they can't it's a red flag that the car is either in worse condition than they led you to believe, or there is no car and they are just trying to get your money. Don't be afraid to ask, you won't know until you do!
Out of Country Sales
Fraudulent sales are against the law and the seller can be prosecuted if caught, therefore, many scammers will upload posts from a different country they are trying to sell in to avoid this from happening. In their posts they will give information about shipping the car and sometimes will offer to pay the shipping costs, but will need money up front from you. This is great, no shipping costs! Yes, this is true, but you will also likely lose the money that you offered up front to them and end up without a vehicle.
Auto sales from another country rarely go as planned unless you are special ordering straight from a reputable car dealership or manufacturer. It's best to practice steering clear of these out of country car sales and stick to domestic ones - it will be a better turnout for you and your wallet.
Payment Method Requested
If you're thinking about buying a vehicle on Craigslist and all of the details seem to be a legitimate sale, you need to check into which type of payment they are requesting. If you are being asked to:
- Wire money through Western Union or any other untraceable source
- Provide your bank account number
- Paypal information
- Personal information such as Social Security Number
It's possibly a scam and they are trying to get your information to not only scam you out of money on the vehicle, but could end up stealing your identity also. Stick to a cashier check or cash with a bill of sale.
As We See It
There is no way to stop online scammers from posting on sites like Craigslist, but we can all avoid falling victim to their games. Always check that all of the details provided in the post are verifiable, double check if they have extra pictures, and never give your personal information out. Another point to make – and we can't stress this enough – is always, always, always meet in a public, well-lit area that has a lot of people around. Having witnesses will help prevent them from harming you in any way or stealing your money and taking off with the car.
We never suggest purchasing a car off of the internet because there is definitely a greater risk involved, and there are better options available – even for people with bad credit. At Auto Credit Express we can match you with a local dealership that specializes in bad credit borrowers looking to get an affordable auto loan. You don't have to settle for a used car that could end up being a money pit; get into a new car today by taking three minutes to fill out our online car loan application.