Selling your car online is easy and convenient. However, it’s so easy that it’s become a great place for scammers. But if you take just a few precautions you can avoid getting ripped off.
It’s easy to choose Craigslist to sell your car because it’s free and this is where most used car bargains are listed. However, it’s also where con artists do their best to pray on unsuspecting sellers. The giant eBayMotors.com also has used cars for sale or auction but it includes some purchase protection programs. They are designed to discourage almost all kinds of fraud.
In comparison, Craigslist tends to attract the undesirable types because of the “anonymity” it offers. While it does attract many positive people, it also gets scam artists that work a sting and then disappear back into the shadows.
Why sellers flock to Craigslist
We’ve all read about crimes that involved Craigslist, but sellers continue to flock to it because they see it as a way to maximize their used car’s value and to sell it quickly instead of trading it in to a dealer at a lower price. One auto enthusiast. who’s a content strategist for Edmonds.com, says he’s never been scammed. The main reason for this is that he responds only to ads that look professional, that have accurate information and include good photos.
Beyond this, here are five tips to help you keep from being scammed.
1. Check out the buyer.
How can you do this without being an FBI agent? First, talk to him or her on the telephone. Many scam artists hide behind fake email accounts that have no information about their location. Ask any potential buyer to provide their phone number and then schedule a time to talk. When you do this, the swindlers disappear very quickly.
It’s very typical these days to exchange text messages when selling a used car, but push for a quick phone call. When you talk with the potential buyer, pay close attention to your intuition. If the buyer says anything that makes you uncomfortable or makes some unusual requests, just hang up.
2. Watch for unusual financing requests
You’ve undoubtedly heard that old saying, “follow the money.” This is a case where it’s critical. Virtually all online scams include some unusual financing request. For example, in one popular scam the buyer sends you a check with an extra amount to ship the car somewhere. You pay the shipping, send the car, and then the check bounces.3. Keep your eagerness in check
The reason why a lot of scams work is because people are so anxious to close what they believe is a sweet deal. Keep in mind that genuine buyers will have questions about your car and will probably want to negotiate. If the buyer is someone out of your area, expect him or her to arrange for a mobile service to inspect the automobile.
4. Arrange to meet someplace safe
Many police departments have created “safe zones” where people can meet that are selling and buying cars. These zones usually have video surveillance, and are good places to meet prospective buyers. You should be the one that chooses where you’ll meet. You can remove a lot of the variables out of the sale by having ground rules like this. What can you do if your city has no safe zone? Arrange to meet some place that’s very well lit with a lot of people around. If you are suspicious for any reason, ask the buyer to show you a driver’s license before allowing her or him drive your car.
5. Avoid people that have too many stories
Many scam artists have stories that involve pleas for help or strange requests such as shipping the car out of the country. Some may even pose as members of the military to get you to feel sympathy and to generate patriotic feelings. Be sure that you avoid all these kinds of requests. Slow the process down, ask a lot of questions and don’t get emotionally involved in things. Keep in mind that selling a car is a business transaction and it’s important to treat the sale as if it you were a businessperson.