Online shopping makes purchasing items quick and easy, but don’t forget about the risks involved. If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a car based on an ad you saw online, you need to be very careful.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center reports auto fraud makes up about 12% of all online purchase scams. The total loss to consumers comes out more than $60 million dollars.
The crime center says most of the time consumers are scammed after purchasing a vehicle advertised at a low price by a seller who is not the owner. The fraudster usually does not meet the consumer in person, instead requiring payment through wire transfer. You’ve probably guessed how this scam ends: you never receive the product for which you paid.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for online car shopping:
Research. Make sure to check the vehicle’s price. The BBB advises checking out a similar make and model’s price on other websites. If the price is a lot lower than market value, it’s probably a scam. Order your own CARFAX report on the vehicle.
Contact the seller. It’s a red flag if the seller refuses to meet in person. The seller should also allow you to inspect the vehicle before making payment.
Investigate. If a seller insists the car will be shipped after you make a payment, make sure to research the shipper and contact the transportation company to confirm the shipping arrangements.