According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), fake online auto sale scams are growing, with victims losing millions of dollars. Scammers use the pandemic as an excuse not to meet buyers in person and avoid actual car inspection, increasing the chances of these types of scams succeeding. That’s why we’re sharing the different types of car buying scams and how you can avoid them. If you want to protect your investment and stay alert with auto scams, check out the article below.
Types of Car Buying Scams
As more people purchase cars and other vehicles, scammers become more eager to meet their next victim behind their computers. Below are the different types of auto scams that you must learn to avoid:
Fake Classified Ads
A common scammers’ technique includes posting images that match the description of the car or vehicle and providing a phone number or email address so you can contact them if you’re interested in the model. Once you do, the scammer will send more images and offer the vehicle at a relatively low price because they need the payment as soon as possible.
These scam artists usually say that the owner of the vehicle died or that they are moving to another country. Others say they’re deployed in the military or that they acquired the car from a divorce settlement. However, once you agree to pay them, thinking that you’ve just made a great investment, the scammer ignores your messages, calls, and emails. No vehicle is delivered, leaving you devastated and financially drained.
Defective Car Scams
Another common scam includes defective used cars. You’re so excited to use it, but the moment you hit the road, the engine blows up or malfunctions. Most scammers will offer the vehicle at such a competitive price that you think you got the best deal. However, offers that are too good to be true are often a scam.
Others will repair the vehicle, but they’re just band-aid solutions. After a few weeks, you will have the same problem with your vehicle. That’s why it’s crucial to have an actual inspection of the car before deciding to purchase it. Scammers may act thoughtful and friendly, but their only goal is to gain money from you.
Auto Warranty Scams
Auto warranty scams are also common, with scammers calling and pretending to be car dealer representatives. Then, they will inform you about the nearing expiration of your auto insurance or warranty, urging you to renew the policy.
These prerecorded or automated calls tell you to press a specific number and then share your personal details. While scammers may give particular information about your vehicle and its warranty, making you think they’re legitimate, do not make the mistake of providing your personal data.
Scammers will ask you to send your payment through a third-party shipping company. To convince you that you’re transferring your money to a credible account, they will either make their own fake escrow accounts, or they will imitate legitimate businesses.
Note that scammers also often use the name of eBay and even send fake invoices from the company. However, in reality, eBay’s protection is only applicable to products with all transactions performed on the platform.
How To Avoid Car Buying Scams
Given that fraudsters apply different techniques to perform auto scams, you should know how to avoid them by considering the steps below:
- Search the car’s image, a specific sentence in the car’s description, the email address, or phone number on the web. Doing so will help you check possible complaints related to the ad.
- Identify the red flags, such as too affordable prices, avoiding meeting in person for inspection, and asking for payments through wire transfer or gift cards.
- Never disclose any of your personal information, like your driver’s license number, Social Security number, or credit card numbers.
- Be suspicious of emails coming from eBay. Remember that eBay protection is only guaranteed for transactions made on the platform itself.
- Do not agree to pay through MoneyGram, Western Union, or gift cards. These are the preferred payment options of scammers as you can no longer get your money back.
- Do not make transactions with sellers who avoid meeting in person or refuse to have the vehicle inspected.
- Trust your gut. If you think something’s off with the deal, then you’re most probably right. Scammers make you feel uncomfortable by being forceful and creating that sense of urgency to purchase the item.
- If you think you’ve been a victim of auto scams, send a report to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Car Buying Scams: Stay on Guard With Social Catfish
Auto scams remain prevalent, especially since scammers have more excuses to avoid in-person inspections given the pandemic. However, with the tips provided above, you can avoid these types of scams. Social Catfish is also willing to help you catch these scammers. Perform a reverse search by entering their name, email address, phone number, or image to immediately verify their identity.