The Internet can be a great tool to buy or sell a car, but just like offline deals, there can be unscrupulous individuals looking to take advantage of consumers who don't take actions to protect themselves against fraud. Whether you're communicating with the seller over the phone or via email, the following tips can help you protect yourself against fraud so you can buy or sell online with confidence. Here are a few common-sense advice tips for used car buyers and sellers to follow:
Vehicle history reports can offer useful information about the car, truck or SUV you're looking to purchase. History reports provide title information and accident reports from the DMV. CARFAX is the leading independent provider of vehicle history information. CARFAX Vehicle History Reports are based on information reported to CARFAX from over 5,300 sources.
In addition to a vehicle history report we suggest you have any vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic and always conduct a test drive. Ask the owner for all service records and any other paperwork they may have on the car. CARCHEX will give any automobile a 55-point pre-purchase inspection almost anywhere in the USA. Whether it is across the street or across the country their qualified, professional staff performs most inspections within 48 hours and can often provide same-day service.
Prior to sending payment, verify the seller's address and phone number so you can contact the seller if a question or problem arises. Simply having an email address is not enough! It's always a good idea to ask for a photocopy of a picture ID, such as a driver's license or passport. If the seller's address doesn't match the address on the title for the vehicle you need to find out why before you buy as this raises a red flag. We recommend that if the buyer/seller is located outside the US to avoid doing the transaction.
We suggest using an escrow service when paying for the vehicle. An escrow service provides protection for both buyer and seller so the seller shouldn't have a problem using this service. An escrow service can hold your payment until you receive the car. We recommend escrow.com as they are fully licensed and accredited. As in all consumer transactions, there is no substitute for a healthy skepticism and your own good judgment. Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true then it probably is. If you need to report fraud on the Internet there is an online partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.