Car buying scams are on the rise and this rise isn’t subsiding any time soon. Frost & Sullivan expects 6 million cars being sold online around the world in 2025, which would be more than a 600 percent increase from 2019.
Bogus advertisements, gift card rip-offs, fraudulent wire transfers, title washing, “curbstoning,” identity theft, fake escrows, payment plans, and phoney checks are all types of online car-buying scams that might happen to you. These online car scams cost millions of dollars each year in damages. This is what you can do to avoid the hassle.
What are Some Common Online Car Scams that You Need to be Aware of:
Auto scammers may pretend to be buyers in order to defraud unsuspecting victims into paying for a car in instalments. An initial payment may be made, but after that the “buyer” may stop making payments. When you’re the seller, you have fewer choices for recouping your losses. When you’re selling an automobile, never agree to a payment plan.
A scammer isn’t interested in purchasing your vehicle in this scenario. Instead, they’re out to steal your personal information. Personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or records of automobile maintenance are requested. You should exercise caution when disclosing personal information to anyone who claims to be interested in buying your car or taking in a trade-in. Make copies of your car maintenance records and remove any personal information before giving them to the recipient. You should also always use a VPN to hide your real IP address from auto scammers because they can steal your identity by simply stealing your IP address.You can try VeePN’s application and hide your IP.
A “curbstoner” is a person who sells used vehicles on the street without having the proper permissions or licences and without having a regular business location. Whether it’s in a parking lot, by the side of the road, or even in front of a house, these scams take place. It’s common for curbstoners to offer naive buyers ruined or damaged vehicles and then leave without a trace. Do business exclusively with reliable sellers who you’ve checked out in advance to avoid being slammed by curbstoning.
Gift Card Scams
You may be asked to use gift cards to purchase a vehicle if you fall victim to an online car buying scam. This is cause for concern. Buying a car with a gift card is a bad idea. In all likelihood, you’ll never see the gift cards or the car you’d wanted to buy again.
Personal or Cashier Checks
Buying a car with a personal check or cashier’s check can be risky. Unless the check has cleared, you may not discover the check is fraudulent until it is too late. Contact the bank that issued the check to make sure it’s authentic before you sign over the title. Stay away from these vehicle report scams.
To remove an automobile’s past, such as the fact that it was severely damaged in a car accident, or to cover up essential information about the vehicle, title cleaning is used. It’s an illegal scheme that’s frequently employed when selling a used car. Ordering an automobile history report can help you avoid becoming the victim of a title-washing scam, as it provides you with a detailed picture of the vehicle’s past.
In this scam, a fraudster poses as a buyer and uses a fake escrow service to hold the money for a car purchase. After the seller turns over the car title, they quickly find out that the escrow money can’t be withdrawn. Selecting an escrow firm with a good reputation is the best way to avoid falling victim to a car buying scam like this.
It’s not uncommon for scammers to promote vehicles they don’t in fact possess. This type of ad may appear to be real because it displays images of the vehicle that match the vehicle’s description. They may also provide the claimed seller’s email address or phone number. In order to avoid getting duped by a false ad, inquire about the vehicle’s specifications (such as the vehicle identification number, or VIN). Don’t buy a car from a private seller if they won’t allow you to view it or see you in person.
What Can You Do If You’re a Victim of Online Buying Scams?
Consider these six measures if you’ve been the victim of an online car-buying or car-selling scam:
- Contact your state’s attorney general’s office and your local BBB to file a complaint against the company.
- The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the National Consumer League’s fraud centre can be contacted to file a complaint.
- The FTC should be notified about the scam.
- Contact the company or financial institution that processed the wire transfer if it was part of the fraud.
- If you’ve given out personal information to a scammer, consider changing your usernames and passwords to protect yourself against identity theft.
- Keep a close eye on your credit reports for any unusual activity that could indicate a crime of identity.
The online world is full of car buying scams that you have to be wary of. You should ideally just stick to the traditional way of going to a dealer and getting a car instead of putting your money at risk like this. Always use an IP checker and hide your IP to make sure no one can access it to impersonate you and buy or sell a car on your behalf.
Make sure you use a VPN at all times to carry out any kind of online transaction to kep yourself protected from these car buying scams in the first place.