Tips from a Michigan program for consumers with poor credit shopping for a vehicle and a car loan online.
What we know

Car buyers including those with bad credit need to know how fraudulent sellers can affect an auto loan by using websites such as

Here at Auto Credit Express we're aware of this because for the past two decades we've been helping applicants with problem credit looking for online auto loans find those dealers for their best chances for auto loan approvals.

These franchised new car dealers not only specialize in helping credit-challenged customers, they're all licensed to do business in their respective states. Among other requirements, this means they're required to maintain a physical presence that includes repair facilities.

So what chances do car buyers take when they decide to buy from someone other than one of these dealers?

Used car fraud

With the summer selling season upon us, it's time to take a look at some tips from H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts), a Michigan organization that works with various law enforcement agencies to follow-up on auto theft-related tips.

"Online used car shopping, particularly on unsupervised sites like Craigslist, is a prime breeding ground for criminal activity, especially the selling of stolen vehicles," said Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T.

"Despite the increase in fraudulent activities, there remain plenty of honest drivers looking to buy or sell a pre-owned vehicle online," continued Miller.

"H.E.A.T. wants to remind Michigan consumers to take extra precaution and due diligence to ensure that you're dealing with one of the good guys."

Tips from H.E.A.T.

If you plan on shopping online for a used car, H.E.A.T. also suggests that buyers follow these tips:

Meet at the S.O.S. – As either the buyer or seller, insist that you meet your other party to conduct the deal at a Secretary of State office during normal business hours.  It is a safe, neutral location and allows for the completion of the deal (title transfer) to be conducted at the point-of-sale.  Any reputable seller or buyer should take no issue with this request.  If the other party in your deal has an excuse as to why he/she can't oblige this request, that should set off a red flag immediately and you may want to cut your losses before it's too late.

Triple-check the VIN – As a buyer, before handing over any money, be certain to closely inspect the Vehicle Identification Number on the seller's paperwork and in two locations on the vehicle – both the dashboard and the inside panel of the driver's door.  If the three VIN numbers are not identical, it's likely you are about to purchase a stolen vehicle that has been re-tagged.  Report the seller immediately to local police and the H.E.A.T. confidential tip line.

Get Guaranteed Payment – As a seller, insist that the buyer provide a bank-issued certified check when purchasing your vehicle.  Fake cashier's checks and money orders are common, and there is no guarantee that a personal check actually comes with the necessary funds to back it up.  Again, any well-intentioned buyer should have no issue with this request.  If he or she does, take it as a warning and walk away from the deal before you're left with no vehicle and no pay off.

As we see it

Nearly all higher-risk auto lenders work strictly through franchised new car dealers. There's a reason for this for - they want to be protected from possible sales fraud. For the same reason car buyers, even those with low FICO scores, need to be aware of the chances they are taking when buying a vehicle online.

Here's one more tip: Auto Credit Express matches people that have experienced difficulties with their car credit to those new car dealers that can offer them their best chances for approved auto loans.

So if you find yourself in this situation and you're ready to reestablish your auto credit, you can begin now by filling out our online auto loan application.