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When selling a car online, like through Craigslist, it’s important to be aware of the potential scams in order to avoid them.
The big problem of selling your car online, like on Craiglist, is the fact that you don’t know who you are dealing with unless you meet the potential buyer in person. It’s not easy to handle money, documents, and test drives when the other person is a complete stranger.
That is why we compiled five tips on how to avoid scammers when selling your car online:
How can you ensure that your potential buyer is legitimate? The first thing you need is to establish interaction. Don’t just communicate over e-mail, talk to them on the phone. Online scammers usually try to only communicate through e-mail and break off contact as soon as you ask them for their contact information. Rely on your intuition. Having a phone conversation with that person is the best way to get a feel of them.
It’s common practice for dishonest scammers to set financing requests online. They will often send you a bigger check to pay for the shipping. Many naive sellers fail to cash the checks and proceed to shipping the car, basically giving it away for free.
Most legitimate buyers won’t request you to ship the car, so it’s best to avoid such requests completely. The best and safest way is to only accept cash for cars for your own security. If the buyer insists on using a check, go with them to a bank and have him verify the check and available funds.
Most criminals will often try to close the deal very quickly. A legitimate car buyer will have lots of questions about the car and will try to negotiate on the price. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Time to look everything over with a clear mind. A car purchase is a big decision and genuine buyers take their time. Real buyers will usually request a car inspection and other revisions before committing to the purchase of your car.
Never place yourself in a risky situation. Police officers recommend that people always meet up in public places with video surveillance (safe zones). This specifically applies to interactions that originate online and lead to physical meetings. Unfortunately, eager sellers often don’t follow this common sense rule and agree to meet in isolated locations putting themselves at risk. It’s also always a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you when meeting up with strangers.
Usually, scammers will come up with extraordinary stories and provide a bunch of unnecessary information. They do this in order to trick you into shipping your car to another country. Often times they will talk about their military credentials to gain your trust and make you feel more sympathetic to them. Whenever you’re selling your car, you need to put your emotions aside. Ask them questions and call them out if their stories seem too crazy.