How To Avoid Being Scammed When Buying A Vehicle Online

So you are ready to buy a car, looking for a super deal and obviously want to avoid being scammed. Criminals are scamming over $4000 cars to $20,000 cars and likely on up in price. Scammers have been successful with the most professional of people too. It really can happen so easily.

I have sold hundreds of cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and commercial equipment since 2006 and have never been scammed once. I have had countless attempts. I have developed these strategies to assist a person with buying online. Deals are out there, and if you check Florida, that is almost always our go to for the best deals in car buying.

I began blogging about scamming with vehicles in the 2008-10 time frame. In those days most scams were popping up off craigslist ads and also were on ebay from time to time. They often had the same entry message, and often mentioned they were not available to meet but would ship the vehicle to you. Today it happens on so many forums, it is such a shame. Be ready to prosecute anyone who works so diligently to scam you. It is the only way to stop these criminals.

If you are in the middle of conversing with a potential vehicle you may purchase, and you are somewhat concerned, after reading my tips please consult an attorney. We also can offer you an online identity check through my company, Cardinal Selling Services. Email us for more information at

First step in safe buying online is to avoid sending a bank wire transfer. IF you choose to do a bank wire, develop a relationship with the bank you are sending the wire to by calling the bank and asking for the head of customer service, or who the employee is which handles bank wires. Let them know you are considering buying a vehicle from a person who banks with them, and you are concerned this offer could be a scam. I have seen bank wires be retracted when the receiving bank knew there was a reason to be concerned. It is best to google the customer service number for the bank you are wiring, do not rely on the person you are buying the vehicle from to give you the phone number. It could be their best friend or cousin answering that call!

If you are on ebay car shopping, check the sellers credentials. ALWAYS. Do they have more than 50 feedback? Low feedback scores could mean they are trying to post, sell and run. More feedback means they are more likely to be legitimate.

Never wire money to a seller , especially on a facebook marketplace or any other selling site, including craigslist without checking further into the seller. Get their home address verbally, and then ask for a copy of their driver's license. Google their name, and location. Ask for the local auto shops contact info that worked on the vehicle/boat/RV to verify the person you are speaking with is legit. If the area this person resides in is large, quite likely the shop won’t know the seller. If it is a smaller town or city, you may be in luck. Ask the person who their banker is, and check the bank out online as well as the banker. MY rule here is, offer to travel to the location and see how quick they say yes or wiggle out of the meetup. Scammers will not meet you, they don’t have a vehicle to sell you!

Ebay makes it easier to buy across the globe, and ebay does protect you. Try to keep all deals on ebay to protect you through their guarantees and the fee to a seller is not enough to NOT want to close the deal on ebay. Don’t let a seller convince you to do any deal outside of ebay. Leave a deposit and generally the seller gives you 7 days to get the car, with cash in hand. Some choose to bank wire, and ship the vehicle. Always some risk here, but a reputable online seller on ebay should make the worry less.

If you are car searching on craigslist, it may be worth talking to a local auto dealer if you find an ad on craigslist. Ask if you can have the automobile inspected. People with nothing to hide, hide nothing. IF they do not want to allow the vehicle to be inspected, this is your first red flag. A Cardinal Rule for me is, craigslist is fine for local sellers and most often more safe, if you find a vehicle you love 300 miles away, protect your money and go put your eyes on the vehicle in person.

If a seller has a story that they cannot meet you, the need to wire the money to a bank and they are leaving for the military tomorrow.. run (RED FLAG). If they are going to ship a vehicle free to you .. run, yes another red flag. If they tell you ebay is holding your money while they ship the vehicle to you .. run, another common red flag . IF they don’t want to meet you, move on with your search.

If you enter into an agreement to purchase a vehicle, and do not have the ability to take the vehicle and title the day of meeting, a purchase agreement is needed. Leaving a deposit is common and can be accounted for with this purchase agreement. This agreement should include the VIN number and if any deposits are paid to the seller on the vehicle, the VIN no and name of seller and buyer and their addresses are to be included. Also you must define how long the seller holds the car while you get the remaining funds together. 7 days is normal, 10 day maximum is my suggestion. We have a document we recommend at the end of this article. If you are leaving a deposit, note it and if it is refundable that needs to be clear. Most sellers will require it not be refunded, and this is because they are holding it waiting on you to pay the full amount of the sale proceeds. If it is not refunded, I recommend leaving a $200 deposit.

Cash face to face is always safest. If you are receiving cash (as a seller) I recommend transacting at a bank where they can check the cash money bills for being counterfeit. You can buy counterfeit checking pens to scan the dollars also, Staples office supply store carries those and Amazon too.

If you are paying for your vehicle via cash at pickup, the only day you meet, the signed title is all you need. However, it is smart to also have a Bill of Sale contract completed. It is simply the record of purchase of the vehicle and can be of help with titling or insuring the vehicle. See the below Bill of Sale document.

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I have other published works you will want to read if buying a car is on your list. I write also about checking the car to be stolen, checking for mechanical issues, verifying the selling price and how to shop for the best deals on a used car.

Our company franchise includes selling fleet vehicles, classic car collections and other specialty vehicles. Classic cars was how I started selling online in late 2005. I still today enjoying meeting clients with fun cars, going through the selling process and bringing satisfied buyers together with the vehicles and assets we sell.

Vicki Wiederkehr

Cardinal Selling Services

Huntingburg, IN


Purchase Agreement

DATE: _________________





Purchase Price; 

Above selling price is pickup price, will assist with loading at time of pickup or transport. Deposit of $ ________ received and full remaining payment of $ __________  Due via bank wire transfer or cash within ____ days with information of bank wire provided upon request.

All sales are final, and this vehicle is sold as is where is.

Both Parties agree to the above mentioned sales terms.

___________________________________   _________________________________
Seller                                                                 Buyer




Date: __________________

VIN: ____________________________

Purchase Price $ ____________________

Seller: ______________________________


This ____________________________ ___________  is Sold as is.


27th Jul 2020

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