Watch Out for These 5 Common Car Scams
Unfortunately for Arizona shoppers, car-buying scams have been around for almost as long as cars have been for sale. With today’s high technology and connectivity, these sophisticated, illegal activities leave many a car buyer with little more than an empty wallet and a bad taste in their mouth.
Buyer BewareBefore you get taken, learn how to watch out for these common car scams.
A private seller may tell you the car being sold is still under a manufacturer’s warranty. This may or may not be true, says DMV.org. A manufacturer warrants, or insures, the car only if it meets certain requirements. The seller may have voided any warranty by neglecting to get the oil changed, tampering with the odometer or being in an accident. Verify any warranty directly with the manufacturer, not the seller. All you need is a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that should be on the dashboard and engine. You can also ask about any additional warranties that may still be in force.
Speaking of VINs, a stolen car can be resold to an innocent buyer by taking another car’s VIN number, says ABC News, and then forging fake VIN plates that are then attached to the stolen car. This crime leaves many victims:
- The owner of the stolen car
- The buyer of the re-plated, stolen car
- The owner of the car whose VIN were cloned
Used car scams abound because private sellers compete with legitimate used car dealers. Only franchise dealerships can offer “certified used cars,” but that does not stop a private seller from printing out false certifications, says Consumer Reports. Look past the certification and inspect the car title, which could be stamped:
- Lemon law buyback
- Recovered theft
Suppose you see a private sale of a car at a great price, and leap at the chance to get it. The private seller asks for a reasonable deposit – like $750 toward a $7,500 sale on a car you know is worth $15,000. You consider it a wise down payment; the seller considers it a done deal and disappears with your $750. Among used car scams, says DMV.org, this is one of the lowest. Protect yourself:
- Refuse the seller’s request to put down a deposit
- Use a cashier’s check drawn on a local bank for the full purchase amount
- Handle monetary exchanges face to face, never by mail or electronically
Escrow accounts are typical for home mortgages. They are not typical in car sales, except when buying or selling remotely (through the internet). A common scam, say experts at Car Buying Tips, is for a seller to ask you to deposit money into an escrow account you did not set up. Once your money goes in, you have no way of getting it out, and the seller disappears. Online escrow services exist and are easy for both buyer and seller to work through; do not be pressured into accepting the car seller’s choice.
Shop Wisely and Confidently with Your Local Valley Chevy Dealers
Many Arizonans are their own worst enemy. They convince themselves that reputable dealers will treat them poorly, so they try to buy a new or used car without a dealer. Protect yourself by going through a reputable, local dealer, one who has been in business for years and intends to stay in business at the same address. This way, if you do encounter a problem, you have a place to actually go to seek relief. Find your nearest Valley Chevrolet dealer today and do business confidently, for new and used vehicles.