Car Buyers Beware: Nine Notorious Scams
One thing I will never understand is the biggest purchases of our lives we pay the least attention to details. I don’t want this to be information that say ALL CAR DEALERS ARE BAD, because that is not the case. I do think like anything else, there are bad and there are good. Here are the bad.
Consumer complaints rose 25 percent in 2010 and a complaint is filed every 90 minutes, according to a Consumer Reports article citing FBI stats. Regarding auto-related complaints, every hour a car buyer loses more than $1,000.
The online car sales company Cars.com employs a fraud team to help weed out the most fraudulent ads on its website.
“The number one piece of advice we can give for buyers and sellers is to listen to that inner voice that says, ‘This is too good to be true,’” advises the site’s spokesperson, Ron Hall, “because we’ve found that it always, always is.”
While it may seem like a no-brainer, never purchase a car or send money for a vehicle without seeing it first. “You’d be surprised at how many people do that,” he says.
The Cars.com fraud team put together this list of the most common scams in auto sales.
Keep in mind the schemes and tactics that follow are not mutually exclusive — some scammers take pages from numerous playbooks.
Scams involving checks (i.e. personal, cashier’s, third-party checks, money order) take many forms. In a typical example, a thief posing as a car buyer “accidentally” sends a check made out for an amount higher than the selling price of the vehicle and requests that the seller deposit the check and return the difference via a wiring service (Money Gram, Western Union, etc.). After the seller has wired the money, he or she learns the buyer’s check is worthless, and the thief disappears with the seller’s money.
The Snopes page dedicated to check scams (including the famous strain originating from Nigeria) recommends waiting three weeks for any sizable check to fully clear. Even if it looks like the funds are available in the bank account before that time, checks could still turn out to be counterfeit.