How Can I Avoid Online Car Auction Scams?

With the recent popularity of online car auctions, many people are wondering how legal and safe they are and what, if any, they should look out for if they choose to find their new vehicle this way. Although they definitely can take out a lot of the middle man when searching for your new car, they definitely also present a unique potential to be scammed. So how can you avoid online car auction scams?

Watch for broken English in the description

One of the top tip offs that the online car auction that you’re looking at might be a scam is that the seller will use broken English. This isn’t obviously a guarantee, of course, as some people selling cars online may actually have English as a second language, but it is a good indicator that you should use extra precaution. Just like a lot of the email money scams, the center of the scamming “industry” is often centered in Nigeria. With any online car auction, make sure that you verify where the seller is located and see if you can actually speak to them on the phone. This will at least help establish trust that the seller is who they say that they are.

Escrow accounts are another tip off

One other hint that you might be dealing with an online car auction scam is that the seller asks you to place the money in an escrow account as opposed to actually paying him or her directly. The need for a third party when dealing with money could meant that the seller isn’t located in this country or that there is something potentially illegal going on (like selling a car that is stolen). Call and speak with someone at the company if you have any doubts. They’ll be able to reassure you if they are a legitimate company as well as tell you about how they work with used car auctions.

What else can I do to avoid being scammed?

There are a few precautions you can take when using online car auctions to purchase a used car. First of all, if something feels “off” it probably is. Trust your judgment and follow your gut. Never provide personal information if you’re uncomfortable with any part of what is going on. Also, make sure you verify the seller’s information prior to sending any money (and, if they insist on using an escrow company, verify that the company is legit). Check review and look into the reputation of both the website and the seller you’re working with. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Valid sellers will do anything they can to make sure you feel comfortable and to answer any questions you might have without giving you any trouble. Anyone who doesn’t should be looked at with scrutiny. More details here:

Using an online car auction can be very useful in your search for a vehicle. However, make sure you take a few simple precautions when looking for your new or used car to make sure you stay as safe as possible and don’t get scammed.