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Auto Sales Fraud Prevention


Before walking into a dealership, 94% of all car buyers use the internet to do online research. While online shopping has become mainstream, reports of internet fraud have increased to include everything from online auctions to even car sales. We want to make sure that when using our services, you have the right tools and knowledge in place to identify potential fraudulent car sales scams, so you can be a well-informed buyer and/or seller.

There are only a limited number of ways scammers can get you to give up your car or your money. As such, they are pretty easy to spot, if you know what to identify. Below are some guidelines to make your car buying and selling experience a lot safer, so you can prevent being victim to a fraudulent car sale scam before it happens:

  1. Deal locally with people you can meet in person - Follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the fraudulent car sale scams that have been attempted on the internet. Inquiries from individuals who live across state-lines (> 300 miles away), in another country, on naval-ships or on military bases are almost always fraudulent. Additionally, the inability or refusal of a buyer or seller to talk on the phone or meet face-to-face before the transaction is a sure sign of a scam.

  2. Check for real contact information - Schemers do not post real phone numbers or addresses. If there is a number attached to the listing, call it immediately and verify the identity of the buyer/seller.

  3. If a deal looks too good to be true, ignore it! - Scammers are very creative and can be very convincing. They will use many tactics including emotional stories to try and convince you their "great deal" and "low prices" are legitimate. This could be anything including: divorce sales, moving overseas, going to war, a death in the family, or other similar stories. When in doubt, ask to meet in-person so you can meet the individual and then inspect and test-drive the vehicle.

  4. Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service - Regardless of the total cost of the vehicle, anyone who asks you to wire them money to complete a sale is a scammer.

  5. Be wary of fake cashier checks and money orders - Banks will cash fake cashier checks and money orders and hold YOU responsible for them. You may not know the checks are not real until weeks later and you will be financial responsible for any bank fees or charges incurred!

  6. Do not pay attention to guarantees provided by unknown third parties - EasyAutoSales and other legitimate classified sites will never be involved in the transaction. We do not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification." Be sure to keep the interactions between you and the buyer/seller only.

  7. Never give out your financial information to an unknown seller - This includes bank account numbers, social security numbers, eBay/PayPal info, passwords, etc.

  8. Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services - Scammers know how to setup fake escrow websites that look legitimate to handle payments. You should know that only a scammer will "GUARANTEE" your transaction.

  9. Report attempted scams or fraudulent listings - Start by flagging users and vehicles on the vehicle details page. If you fall victim to a fraudulent car sale scheme, the following phone numbers and websites may be able to help you:

    1. FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
    2. FTC online complaint form (http://www.ftc.gov)
    3. Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
    4. Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov)
    5. Software Piracy (http://www.siia.net/piracy/report.asp)
    6. Non-emergency number for your local police department.

  10. Get the vehicle history report - Always ask the seller to provide the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Once you receive this number, you can request a CARFAX or AutoCheck report that will tell you the history of the vehicle and see if the vehicle was last reported in your area. A $30 report will not only prevent you from losing money to a potential scam but it could also save you from spending thousands more after the sale to fix up a car with a troubled past.