Imagine a place with unknown danger around every turn. A place where things appear innocent and safe at first glance, but can rob you of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye. This is a place where only the toughest roam and where the clueless are quickly taken advantage of in embarrassing ways.
It’s also a place of integrity and honesty once you know your way around.
If you enter this place, you had better have your defenses ready and your wallet safely secured to your hip.
And you’d better not go alone.
Where is this place?
The used car market.
Whether you are shopping online or in person, financial danger is a reality of the used car marketplace. In general, in-person shopping is safer because, at the very least, you know the car for sale actually exists. What you don’t know, at first glance at least, is the true history of the car or the real intentions of the person selling it.
Search online, especially in free online classifieds, and your potential for trouble skyrockets. Sure there are good deals there, but the scammers swarm like hornets to rotting meat. Sellers on those sites can be completely anonymous and market their wares as perfect-looking, low-mileage, flawless vehicles when in reality, they may not even have a vehicle to sell.
How can you avoid them? As with anything, do your research! If you find a car you like on a free classified site, immediately search for the same make and model on a reputable site like the CarGurus DealFinder. You might find an even better local deal that you can be sure isn’t a scam. You’ll also know right away how the price compares with national averages. Always check the VIN at AutoCheck, Carfax, or the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.
There are lots of reputable dealers and individuals selling used cars, but there are also many people hoping you can’t tell the difference between a scam and a real deal.
Have you ever purchased a car you found online?