driving a car, ensuring safety

Ensuring Safety When Buying or Selling a Car Online.

When buying or selling a car it is important to be thorough to ensure your safety and avoid any scams. Purchasing your next vehicle can be an exciting yet lengthy process. Finding the right make and specs that you like. Creating a budget, viewing numerous different options to find the right fit for you, test driving the vehicle and having the car checked by a mechanic. 

The same for if you are selling a car, having to arrange numerous viewings. Setting a price, and hoping your car sells for a good price. You can get to the point where it feels like there might be a quick way. That is why it is important to be vigilant and aware of the risks when buying and selling a car. 

Shopless investigates current red flags to look out for, when buying or selling your car. So that the process of selling or purchasing a car is an easy and positive experience for you. 

Ensuring Safety When Buying a Car

When purchasing a car it is important to view the car, do a safety check and ensure you are happy with it before making the purchase. Here are some warning signs to look out for when buying a car.

The Price Advertised is Significantly is below Market Value

  • If the price of the vehicle you are purchasing is too good to be true, then it could well be. One of the most common car scams is fraudsters advertising pictures of rare cars at low prices. In this case you would want to ensure that you have viewed the car, having a mechanic view the car before you make the purchase. 
  • These scammers usually make out that they are in another part of the country, or cannot offer a viewing. Sometimes stating COVID restrictions as a reason not to arrange a viewing or inspection. And they will request the payment of the car upfront, without any definitive knowledge that the car exists. 

Gift Card Scams

  • This is a fairly common international scam, where a seller will insist you pay for the vehicle with gift cards. This would involve pre-purchasing gift cards instead of creating a legal vehicle sales-agreement with the seller. Not paying through the standard means. 
  • If you feel that the means of payment is unusual, this should be a red flag in a purchase. It is unlikely that you will see the car after producing the gift cards, and these can be used quickly without an ability to be traced easily.
  • Other means of payment that should create doubt are western union payments or alternative online payments such as PayPal. Avoiding these helps to ensure your safety in the transaction.

Check For Outstanding Finance

  • This is a simple New Zealand scam that can be easily missed upon purchase. If there is money owing on the vehicle then the money owed stays with the vehicle. There may be nothing wrong with the car, and it could seem like a decent purchase. However a finance company may then show up for repossession of the car, months after the purchase has been made. 
  • Indicators of this may be a rushed purchase or the selling is ‘moving overseas’ with no further ability to contact them. 
  • You can check a vehicle’s finance history by doing a vehicle history check, here. Additionally you can also check the background of the car to ensure it has not had any major accidents or is not in the recorded state that is advertised. 

Ensuring Safety When Selling a Car

We all know that we need to be cautious when purchasing a car, but it is also important to take steps to ensure your safety when selling. There are still frauds and manipulations that can occur when selling. 

Payment plans

  • If you are an individual selling your car, you should not accept or offer payment through a payment plan. Once the buyer has taken possession of the carthe may make an initial payment, or two but could cut you off from their payment scheme completely. 
  • This could leave you with no way of contacting the purchaser and out of pocket for the money owed. It is best to make sure that the car can be purchased upfront on the sale agreements, as you are then guaranteed that your buyer will purchase the car. 

Payments via check or Alternative Methods

  • Payment via check means that you have to wait until the check has cleared to receive the money. This could give a purchaser enough time to move with the car, and block your details. 
  • This was a particularly common scam in Auckland in 2020 on Facebook marketplace, when 9 people were arrested for scamming car sellers by ‘paying with checks’. It is still a reasonably common scam seen today.  Taking payment upfront on purchase via standard means is the best way to ensuring your safety when selling your car.

It is always important to take extra precautions when buying or selling a car, ensuring your safety. If you need more information about buying or selling a car, make sure to take a look at the NZTA website. If you are looking to buy or sell a vehicle, you can list your vehicle in the Shopless Motors section, here. We hope to make the process of buying or selling easier and safer for you.

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