Keith Griffin is a member of the New England Motor Press Association and has been an automotive journalist and new car reviewer for more than a decade. Updated February 22, There's a Craiglist scam in the used car world that may catch you by surprise.
Dealers are selling cars as private individuals so they don't have to comply with used car rules established by the Federal Trade Commission. You won't know that you're buying from a used car dealer until the sale is complete.
How the Scam Works It generally goes something like this: You see an ad on Craigslist and call to see the vehicle. You meet at a private residence.
Used Cars: Spot a Dealer-Scammer Posing as a Private Seller - buying a car on craigslist vs dealer
The seller weaves a song and dance about why the car is for sale, never mentioning that he or she is a dealer. A used car history report will be shown to assuage any suspicions about the car. You're a savvy used car buyer and plan an independent inspection anyway.
That's fine with the dealer because the inspection does nothing to report who the current owner is.
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The used car history report isn't fraudulent per se. It's most likely pulled from before the dealer bought the car — so the sales transaction to the dealer will not be reported. If you like the car after inspection, you make the deal and this overly helpful private seller agrees to get the car registered for you.
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When you get the final paperwork, it reveals that the seller was actually "Bill's Used Cars" or something similar. What the Scammers Are Thinking Why does the dealer do this?
The Buyers Guide gives a great deal of information, including: Whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty ; What percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty; The fact that spoken promises are difficult to enforce; and The major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for.
The Buyers Guide also tells you to: Get all promises in writing; Keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale; and Ask to buy a car on craigslist vs dealer the car inspected by an independent mechanic before the purchase. As the FTC points out, "Buying a car from a private individual is different from buying from a dealer. That's because private sales generally aren't covered by the Used Car Rule, or by "implied warranties" of state law.
A private sale probably will be "as is" — you'll have to pay for anything that goes wrong after the sale. It's also impossible to track Better Business Bureau complaints against the dealer. This scam is not limited to just Craigslist, as there are many other avenues for finding a used car online.
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What You Can Do Some advice would be to run your own vehicle history report on any used car before you buy it. Consider using two or three websites to ensure the full history is revealed.
Never trust a used car history report given to you by a seller not even a franchised dealer, frankly because it's not hard to create a false report that looks real. It's also smart to ask to see the driver's license or other official identification from the seller before buying a used car. Search the name online along with the words "used car.
Used car scammers like to move from state to state after being convicted, but they leave a trail online. Make sure the driver's license matches the name and address on the bill of sale.
It would stop problems like those listed above. Plus, remember not to allow the seller, unless it is a registered dealership, to handle the registration paperwork for you. That's how you ended up getting caught up in swindles like this one on Craigslist. If you discover a dealer selling cars as a private.
Buying a Used Car from a Dealer (The Right Way)
Many people go to Craigslist when buying a used car. In many cases, there are more advantages when choosing to buy at a dealership vs Craigslist! I didn't intend to buy a car on Craigslist, but wound up finding into a dealership or start test-driving cars, you should know exactly what type of. That said, if you want to “flip” cars for cash off Craigslist or any other way To me, CL is no worse than buying a car from a dealer, newspaper.