Be Careful When You Sell a Car
As the saying goes, let the buyer beware. In today’s world, the seller also has to beware. A current example is the red-hot market in used cars.
According to the Wall Street Journal, many used cars have soared in value, with demand far ahead of available vehicles. Sellers who wish to maximize their profits may try to unload their cars privately, through Craigslist and other online platforms, rather than trading them in to an auto dealer. And that has attracted scammers who are using various tricks to cheat used-car sellers.
If you are the seller, the following steps can help you stay safe in unloading that used car:
Confirm who you are dealing with. Real buyers will want to inspect the car carefully and not offer to buy it sight unseen. Let the buyer know that you will want to see their driver’s license and insurance card. Ask if you can take photos of their documents.
Meet in a public place, not your home. This can be a busy shopping center with lots of people passing by so you are not alone. Ideally, bring a friend to the meeting.
Go with the buyer on the test drive. Most people are not going to race away with your car, but why take a chance? If you are alone with the buyer, let a friend or family member know where you are and what’s going on.
Complete the sale at the buyer’s bank. This makes it easy to verify that their checking account has enough cash to cover the check. Do not hand over the title to the vehicle until you are holding the money.
Avoid PayPal scams. In this fraud, a supposed buyer will offer to buy the car without meeting you and offer to send money to your PayPal address. You will receive a phony email that looks like it came from PayPal, and the buyer will ask you to ship the car. Don’t be conned by an email. Make sure to verify that the money has really arrived in your PayPal account.
Steer clear of phony escrow services. Honest escrow services can be useful in overseeing online transactions. But criminals may direct sellers to websites that are set up to steal your money. If you use an escrow service, make sure that it is legitimate.
Learn your state’s rules. Requirements vary for completing the sale of a used car, including when a seller is released from liability for new accidents. Check with your state motor vehicle agency to make sure you know the rules.