Avoid These Common Scams When Buying a Car

Avoid These Common Scams When Buying a Car

Don't Get Duped! Common Car Buying Scams to Watch Out For

Besides a home, buying a car is the second most expensive investment for most people. Being such a money-intensive affair, the car buying and selling industry attracts some unscrupulous dealers whose primary intention is to scam buyers off their hard-earned money. If you are shopping for a car, the first thing to ensure you are safe is to know the pitfalls to avoid them. This guide highlights common car seller scams and how to avoid them.

Avoid These Common Scams When Buying a Car

Common Car Buying Scams and How to Avoid Them

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The “Just Needs” Scam

This type of fraud involves sellers with a car to sell but not telling the buyers all the details about the car's condition. For example, when listing the car, the seller will say the car is in perfect working condition but just needs a minor fix. When a seller says, “just needs,” interpret it as nothing is working properly, as most buyers get to discover after buying.

Unfortunately, buying an old and faulty car can put you and other road users at risk of getting into an accident. This goes both ways. If you are driving near a driver with such a car, they could hit you and cause you to suffer injuries. If you get in such a scenario, the most important thing to do is hire a car accident lawyer from a firm that represents local clients to help you recover compensation for damages suffered in the accident.

A Too Good to Be True Deal

Everyone is always looking for the best deals when making a purchase. However, distinguishing between a good deal and a too-good-to-be-true one is vital. This trick is widespread among online car sellers. They will list a car at a price way below its market value and wait for potential buyers. When buyers indicate their interest in buying, they are told it is out of stock but can be shipped from outside the country if they make a purchase. After wiring the money, the seller disappears.

According to the National Consumer League (NCL), this type of scam is particularly egregious and can result in consumers losing thousands of dollars. The best rule of thumb when buying a car or any product is never to engage a seller with too-good-to-be-true offers, no matter how convincing they sound.

Avoid These Common Scams When Buying a Car

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“Must Sell Now” Scams

“Must sell now” is more like a too-good-to-be-true offer, but this time it involves individuals claiming to be in a hurry to sell. Often these people post cars they do not own and make up a reason for wanting to sell fast, like deployment for military duty, moving abroad, or claiming they just bought a new car and want to get rid of both. Like the good-to-be true deals, the seller will disappear after you wire an agreed fraction of the price.

According to the FBI, this scam is quite prevalent and cost car buyers over $54 million between 2014 and 2017. The surest way to avoid such scams is to refuse to pay any money before seeing the actual car and making document transfers.

Escrow Scams

Escrow is an excellent way of transacting if you are unsure about the trustworthiness of the person you are doing business with. However, con artists have learned the art of creating escrow accounts where they ask you to deposit your money to indicate that you are a serious buyer. The “escrow account” gives the buyer confidence and thus lowers their guard. Unfortunately, if you deposit money in a fake escrow account, you will never hear from them again.

While you could avoid being scammed in this way by creating an escrow account yourself, the best way is to avoid parting any money through whichever avenue until you see the vehicle you want to buy and verify its ownership.

Avoid These Common Scams When Buying a Car


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