How to Avoid Scammers When Selling Your Car

You’ve decided to sell your car. Great. You’ve reached step 1.

However, there are inherent dangers that can present themselves through this process. You have to think carefully about whether you’re able to deal with the tire-kickers, scammers and other unsavory characters you will inevitably meet throughout this experience. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported that in 2017, nearly 100 car sellers on craigslist were the victims of a scam that left the sellers without their car and with a dead-weight rubber check in their hands. In 2014, a young seller from California was stabbed to death selling a car he advertised on craigslist.

Ok, so not everyone is going to face a situation as tragic as that, but it’s important to note the risks associated with putting your asset and your contact information out to the public. If you’re selling an expensive car or one that’s highly sought after in the criminal community, you need to be even more careful. Below are some helpful tips on how you can be proactive and avoid situations like the above.

If you’ve ever heard the adage that your friends are a good reflection of the type of person you are, a similar rule applies to selling your car online. The more professional, clear and strategic you are while selling your car – the more likely you are to attract the right type of buyer. In case you missed it, check out our article 10 Tips for Selling Your Car Privately and then come back to this article for tips on keeping your information and your car safe from scammers.

1. Profile the Potential Buyer

We understand that you might not have access to criminal databases or be willing to spend money on a background check just to find out of if your potential buyer is a decent human being. That’s unrealistic, but there are plenty of ways to do your own homework. First, arrange a phone call with the buyer. Many scammers will only talk to you via email. Some of them are from foreign countries and know that you’ll immediately be on to them if they call you from Nigeria. Some of the smarter scammers will use fake google numbers and might even text you. Ask for a phone call. If they refuse, they’re probably hiding something. If the buyer is making unusual requests(like asking you to ship the car to Africa), trust your intuition and end the conversation.

2. Don’t be Desperate

The more desperate you are or appear to be, the more likely you are to be a target for a scammer. You should be suspect of someone that is offering to pay for the car sight unseen. Would you buy a car you’re going to spend considerable time inside without seeing it first? Yes, sales happen all the time through Autotrader and Ebay, but those websites do their own homework to link you with verified buyers and offer protection if the deal goes south. When you post through craigslist or the local newspaper, it’s your responsibility to install those precautions into the buying process. Appear relaxed and in no rush to force a sale, even if you’re not.

3. Meet in a Safe, Neutral Place

Inevitably you will have to meet the prospective buyer in person. That’s ok. You can meet them in a neutral, safe space. The police themselves designate certain areas as “safe zones”. These are considered well-lit, public places with video surveillance. One of the best ways to deter a buyer is by implementing this ground rule first – they must meet in a place you designate. By not allowing them to manipulate the meeting place, your chances of being robbed or your car being stolen decrease significantly. Again, most scammers will already have walked away by implementing Tip #1 and #2, but if they haven’t – this should do the trick.

4. Avoid Buyers With Too Much Baggage

This sounds like we’re being cruel, but it’s a good tip to keep in mind. If the buyer gives you a long story about how their grandmother died and they’re using their inheritance to ship a car to their grandfather in Mozambique, you’ve probably been targeted by a scammer. Remove emotion from the equation. This is a business transaction, and you are under no responsibility to sell the car to a buyer just because you feel bad for them. USA Today noted that some scammers are now posing as members of the military, to legitimize their oversea requests and to tap into your sense of patriotism. Don’t fall for it. It’s likely they are not an active member of the military.

Hopefully, you are now more aware of the difficulties you could face when trying to sell your car privately. If all of this is sounding like an effort or risk you’re not willing to endeavor in – consider carlisty.com. Our trusted team of automotive experts do everything for you. You simply sit back, wait for the car to sell, and cash the check once it’s sold. We’ll weed out the scammers and find the serious buyers with checks that don’t bounce. Easy, right?

Posted on

June 6, 2018

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