It’s time to offload that used car you don’t need anymore. Ideally, you will sell it quickly and make the kind of money you want from the deal. As the seller, you are in control, and you expect everything to go smoothly. Unfortunately, there are plenty of car buying scams that target sellers that you need to be aware of.
Checks, money orders, and bank drafts can all be forged. If you sign the title of your car over before the funds are in your account, you can end up being robbed. This is one of the oldest tricks that there is. Criminals convince you to trust them and then fail to honor their agreements. Do not let someone drive off with your vehicle before ensuring that you have acquired actual funds. Conduct the transaction at the bank or with cash.
Some might try to convince you to make accept monthly payments towards an agreed upon amount. Later, it is impossible to find this person once they have stopped sending you the money you were promised. Most finance companies secure the title and have a collections process that protects them against this kind of fraud. As a private seller, you are not equipped to deal with such a problem. If a buyer wants to finance the vehicle, insist that they secure their own lender.
An escrow company holds funds and titles in trust prior to a transaction. These businesses are supposed to facilitate complicated business deals and are commonly used when high value or rare merchandise is sold. Not all escrow companies are legitimate. A con artist may convince you to trust an illegal escrow company. Once you have signed over the title, the company disappears.
If you are going to work with an escrow company, do some basic research first. Check business licenses and reviews. If they are registered with the Better Business Bureau, ask for a record of any complaints. To test the sincerity of your buyer, suggest an alternative escrow company. If the buy is a thief, this will likely end the dialogue.
Not all scams are an attempt to steal your vehicle. Some con artists are after your personal information. Always protect your social security, bank account, and credit card numbers. If the person you are dealing with is asking detailed personal questions that you are uncomfortable answering, do not continue with the deal. This type of thief is not interested in purchasing your car. Instead, your information will be used to commit other crimes.
Avoid conducting transactions at home, and do not give out your home phone number. Meet in public, and use email to initially screen potential buyers. Ask plenty of questions to determine how serious the buyer is. The longer the dialogue takes, the more secure the deal is.
As the seller you have an advantage in the market, but you are still vulnerable to fraud. Beware of the risks and take precautions to protect yourself.