Just as about everything else we do today has migrated online so has buying a used car, however, buying a used car, which is always an activity ripe for scams, is particularly susceptible to scams when you are buying a used car online.  This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider buying a used car online, but it does mean that you have to take precautions to make sure you are not scammed.  One of the first things to check out when you buy a car on Craigslist, eBay or any other online listing site is whether or not the car actually exists and is owned by the person trying to sell it to you.  Scammers often take pictures from real online listings of used cars and put them into phony online ads.  A good way to determine if a listing has been merely copied is to do a reverse image search on Google which will show you if the same car keeps turning up in ads as being available in many different places around the country.

You also should never buy a used car unless you get a chance to actually drive it and have a mechanic check it out for you.  Get a Carfax or similar report on the car which will indicate if there is hidden damage that hasn’t been told to you.  As I have written about many times, water or storm damaged cars often get their titles changed and are sold as if they had no damage.  A Carfax or similar report will reveal such hidden information.

Finally, it is a good idea to use third party escrow sites such as PayPal to pay for a used car to make sure that funds are not released until you get the car you purchased.  Be particularly wary if the seller wants you to pay with gift cards which is always an indication of a scam.

TIPS

Whenever you purchase a used car you should always get a full report on its history. The United States Department of Justice operates The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System which provides much information about used cars. The NVMTIS provides a list of various companies such as Carfax that have been approved to provide reliable reports. These companies charge between $2.95 and $12.99 for a report that will provide detailed information on any used car you are considering purchasing.

Whenever you are considering buying a used card you also should ask the seller to provide you with the Vehicle Identification Number  (VIN).   You can then enter that information into the website of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in order to verify that it matches the car the seller indicates he or she is selling and that it is not a stolen car.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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