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Retirees Are Driving For Dollars
Used car dealers and Internet sellers both tend to get a bad rap, and the same goes for people selling cars online.
Craigslist has a local feel, but that doesn’t mean everyone who puts their car up for sale is acting close. While there are plenty of genuine people willing to sell one-on-one instead of trading in their car, there are also scammers who want to take your money for a car that doesn’t exist or sell you a car in bad shape.
“Since Henry Ford opened up shop, consumers have been victims of fraudulent car transactions,” Florida consumer protection attorney Donald E. Petersen, who specializes in fraud cases, told Business Insider.
We asked consumer protection experts about the biggest scams people should watch out for when buying a car on Craigslist, and here’s what they had to say.
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This is one of the biggest things to look out for in Craigslist ads: a car that doesn’t actually exist. Scammers will copy and paste images from the real ad, then create fake listings in dozens of cities.
Avoid salespeople who don’t want to meet in person and don’t spend money on a car you’ve never seen. Katherine Hutt, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau, told Business Insider that she’s seen the same photos listed on dozens of sites across the country. “Who knows where the original car is?” he said. “The scammer continued to use the same photo over and over and there were multiple victims.”
To find out if the car you’re looking at is real, BBB recommends copying the photo from the listing and doing a reverse image search on Google. If the car appears on more than one site in several cities, you can be sure that it is a fake.
The same goes for the test: Cheaters don’t always want to make a new list for each car. Google the snippet from the Craigslist description in quotes and see if other listings use the same words.
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While there’s nothing illegal about selling your car to someone instead of going through a dealership, a certain number of people selling cars per year (the number varies from state to state) must be licensed. . Those who don’t and those who set up as sole traders are known as curbside sellers.
There’s probably a reason they’re trying to avoid the rules that licensed dealers have to follow, like a money-back guarantee if the car ends up with a lemon. Petersen said curbstone dealers “are often transient or at least hard to find.
If something goes wrong, you and the authorities will have a hard time tracking down that curbstone seller.
Unless you have mechanic-level automotive knowledge, the untrained eye may not realize that high-end parts have been replaced with low-end parts or that airbags are missing.
To Spot A Craigslist Scammer
Your mechanic will be able to tell you if there is a problem with the car, so ask the seller to have a trusted auto expert, not one the seller hires, take a look at it before doing so.
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“If the seller won’t let you take it to a mechanic before you buy it, go somewhere else immediately,” Petersen said.
Many sellers pressure buyers into a deal, and in the case of Craiglist, it gets personal. Scammers try to get you to make a quick decision based on a story of hard luck.
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They may say they’re going to be drafted or they’ve lost their job and can’t pay the rent without selling their car.
“Fraudsters are often very lucky to prey on your sympathy,” says Hutt. “They force you to pay quickly because they are urgent – before they think twice or get advice from someone else.”
Scammers on fake listings know that if buyers ask for $20,000 up front, their alarm bells will go off, so they’ll bring it in slowly. Often they claim that the car is in high demand, so if you don’t pay, they can’t guarantee a below-average price.
“The scammer will ask for the money in smaller amounts rather than all at once,” says Hutt. “Deposit first, payment later, delivery later.”
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The next thing you know, you’ve put down big change for a car you’ll never see again.
Escrow sites are designed to protect you as a consumer. You pay the third-party site instead of sending it directly to the seller, and if something goes wrong, esrow gives you your money back — not the scammer.
But scammers know that online shoppers are looking for this kind of protection, so they’ll trick you by spoofing an existing deposit site or setting up their own to lock you into a secure contract.
You should not automatically trust an escrow site that recommends a seller. The BBB website suggests that you do your own research and trust only state-licensed savings services.
Increase Your Car’s Resale Value
Reversing the odometer is one of the oldest tricks in the books. The number of miles a car has been driven is a good indicator of how worn it is, so a mile or two (or 10,000) will make the best buyer think they’re practically buying a new car.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the average driver drives about 13,000 miles each year, so if a five-year-old car only has 15,000 miles on it, it could be a sign that it’s not filling up. not sure.
Of course, some people actually drive less—teenagers and seniors, for example, tend to drive less than 8,000 a year—so compare the odometer reading to other car specs, the BBB recommends. You shouldn’t see worn tires and a loved interior on a car that should hardly be driven.
Even if the car appears to be in good condition, there may be damage from an old accident or flood that the seller is deliberately trying to hide. Even if the owner offers you a copy of the car’s history report, be skeptical — the seller may be falsifying the history.
How To Buy Or Sell A Car On Craigslist
Instead, ask for the vehicle’s identification number, or VIN, and do your own search through trusted third parties like Carfax — but be aware that “public records are horribly incomplete, so even those may be missing information,” Petersen said.
“I recommend that consumers check the VIN code for consistency in several locations on the vehicle to identify vehicles that have undergone major rebuilding or even possible theft,” he said.
“The most common problem that consumers describe to me is that they bought a used car in response to an ad on Craigslist and the seller let them take what could be described as a test drive around the block in an area where the speed limits were pretty low,” Petersen said.
He says that unless you’re in a more realistic driving scenario, you won’t be able to tell how the car actually drives and whether it’s been properly serviced. Request a longer test drive; A declining seller may have something to hide.Q: Hi Greg, and I feel that the only vehicle that is more under thought out than the wagon today is the van! Well, I bought a 1969 GMC Window Van about five years ago and have basically restored it. But I got sick of it and found a real warehouse on Craigslist; 1955 Chevy 210 Townsman wagon 74,000 original miles. I paid $10,000 for it and put another $15,000 in it and it’s safe to drive and looks great.
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I’ve always wanted a 1950 Ford, but parts are scarce. My family always had Ford station wagons and I wanted one as an adult. In high school I drove a 1962 Ford Galaxie station wagon, and in college I drove a 1965 Ford 500, a very basic sedan. However, the 1936 Chevy two-door was my daily driver, and I always hoped to buy one again, but I never did.
Also, I had a 1966 Dodge A-106 van that I converted into a camper and drove to Florida many times. Back in 1972, my dad bought a Chevy van from Open Road. I ended up reading it and rebuilding it. My father didn’t like it, but I did
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