Securing Your Remote Car Purchase with a Secured Agent
Say you’ve found the muscle car of your dreams on an online classic car forum. Or that antique or historic vehicle you’ve been searching for finally turns up in an internet Buy/Sell/Trade car site. You’ve made the connection, agreed on a price, and you’re ready to wire that money and arrange for shipment.
And man, are you getting a great deal!
But hold on does the sellers story really make sense?
Even the savviest are at risk because the scammers are professionals and make it their business to take advantage of every tech trick possible. Couple that with the increasing reliance on the internet for car purchases, and it’s a perfect storm for someone ready to take advantage of an eager car buyer. Hard luck stories that explain away the amazingly low price may be the scammer laying the groundwork to steal your money.
For vehicle purchases, the car buyer protection services of a secured agent can be your best bet against dishonest sellers: the ones who switch out parts, misrepresent the condition of a vehicle, or even get your money and disappear along with the fake escrow account!
The Better Business Bureau knows plenty about online car buying and selling scams. When you’ve found the car of your dreams but it’s across the country, follow the general scam tips below and consider the services of a secured agent for your vehicle purchase:
1. Never send money to someone you have never met face-to-face. Seriously, just don’t ever do it. And really, really don’t do it if they ask you to use wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card (those cannot be traced and are as good as cash).
2. Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean that it is. Even Caller ID can be faked.
3. Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media, and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but that is part of the con to get you to trust them.
4. Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media, even at your front door. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, and Social Security/Social Insurance numbers.
5. Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend, or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.
6. Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes, and debts. Do not pay by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or other non-traditional payment method. Say no to cash-only deals, high pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, and overpayments
7. Be cautious about what you share on social media and consider only connecting with people you already know. Be sure to use privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member because they know so much about you.
Honest online vehicle purchases are possible. Avoid the very real risk of losing your money and take these recommended precautions.