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Watch Out For These 4 Common Used Car-Buying Scams

Buying a new car is an exciting purchase, no matter who you are and how many times you’ve done it. Like many other individuals nationwide, you may be interested in purchasing a second-hand vehicle rather than a brand-new one. However, buying a used car requires more legwork compared to a brand-new model, as well as more caution. Used car-buying scams and other vehicle scams are rampant, which is why we as consumers need to learn about them to avoid adding to the large statistic pool of victims.

Must Sell Now

The “must sell now” scams are a shining example of how some deals are too good to be true. The scam involves criminals posting deceptive ads that showcase real cars that they don’t even own with an unrealistically affordable price tag attached to them, claiming that their inventory needs to go. The scammers will then demand a partial payment upfront once a buyer approaches them for a deal. Unfortunately, once the payment goes through, the sellers vanish into thin air. To prevent yourself from falling for such scams, don’t be afraid to walk away from a suspiciously sweet deal. A car purchase should be a win-win situation for both the buyer and seller, making it an illogical and shady practice for a legitimate seller to sell at such a huge loss, making it a giant red flag.

Namedropping Legitimate Third-parties

Criminals that run auto scams often utilize names familiar to most shoppers to legitimize themselves, making potential victims lower their guard. Usually, they leverage the names of reputable, trustworthy third-party companies such as eBay Motors, without actually being affiliated with such organizations. To avoid falling for such schemes, you should research the seller’s identity further with a critical eye, by looking up the seller’s company online, rather than simply trusting and taking the contact information they provide at face value.

Accepting Alternative Payment Methods

If a used car seller recommends you use certain obscure payment methods, it’s an enormous red flag that you need to detect immediately before it’s too late. Most of the time, scammers will persuade you to pay using an alternative currency that’s difficult to trace, such as gift cards and wire transfers to evade the law. Once you’ve fallen victim to such scams, you’ll most likely be unable to recover the payment you made, much less the car you were buying. Instead, never use such payment methods when purchasing a second-hand car, as no legitimate seller would prioritize such platforms over cash and credit.


Curbstoning is the illegal sale of damaged or salvaged used cars for profit. Curbstoners can either be suspicious private sellers or even unethical dealers pretending to be private sellers. Usually, unsuspecting buyers are lured into open spaces such as parking lots or residential areas and are persuaded into buying a car that’s dressed up with superficial cosmetic improvements to hide their flaws. Such scams lead to serious consequences such as buying a car with the odometer rolled back, undisclosed dangerous flaws that make it unsafe to drive and experiencing problems with registering your car with legal documents like the car title.

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