As far as four letter bad words go, one of the worst may not be what most people would think; that word is scam. This word strikes fear into the hearts of people across the globe. Scams can cause major financial losses, identity theft, and major stress in consumers’ lives.
Scams can happen in many business, personal, political, and even religious settings. It comes as no surprise then that the business of buying and selling cars is not immune from scams. There are several unique scams associated with the automobile industry that consumers should be aware of before buying or selling a vehicle.
One scam that is very pervasive in the automobile industry and often has sellers playing the role of victim is a certified check scam. In this infamous scam, the potential buyer – who is actually the scam artist, tells the seller that they want to purchase the car but they must send a certified check for more than the selling price and have the seller wire the “buyer” the difference. The scam occurs when the seller wires the scam artist money, but when the seller tries to cash the check, it turns out to be fake. Always contact the bank that issued the check from the buyer before accepting the payment, and never transfer the vehicle over to the buyer until the check has been processed.
While technology such as the internet has made many aspects of life easier and more convenient, including selling a car, the internet also makes it much easier for scam artists to commit crimes. One example of technology being used to scam both buyers and sellers comes in the form of a false online auction. Sellers often ship a vehicle after selling an automobile on the internet but never receive payment. Much in the same fashion, buyers have often been required to make payment on an auction site, yet they never receive the car they paid for. Many times it is difficult to track criminals down that use fake auction websites on the internet because the sites can be set up with little personal information about the creator of the site readily available.
It is important for buyers and sellers to always do research before doing business with other people or companies, especially when the internet is being used as a medium to transfer goods and services. People that have been scammed and want more information about the process of filing a complaint, or just want to research ways to avoid future problems can contact the National Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org or regional authorities with experience in scams.