Top 10 ways to avoid online scams when using car auctions

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The bid now button for an online automobile auction. Online scams are always a possibility when transacting over the Web, but if you are aware of the top 10 ways to avoid online scams, you'll be less like to lose thousand and have no new car to show for it.

Ready to buy a car online via auction? Note the top 10 ways to avoid online scams before you decide! (Photo: ThinkStock)

If you are considering shopping for a new or used vehicle via online auction, it would make sense to acquaint yourself with the top 10 ways to avoid online scams. This is not to say that all online auction websites like eBay and Yahoo Auctions are going to lead you into a financial quagmire if you try to buy a car at auction. These retailers have security protocols in place to protect consumers from fraud, but no means of online fraud protection is impregnable. The best way to protect yourself is to use common sense techniques like these. Then all you’ll have to concern yourself with is what auto loan or other finance option you’ll use.

Remember these top 10 ways to avoid online scams at auction

Special thanks to our friends at Edmunds for bringing these top 10 ways to avoid online scams to light. Here are the highlights you should know:

  1. There are no magic deals online. Online auto auctions certainly will present their share of good deals, but it’s important not to let it go to your head. If a brand new BMW auction screams steal at $10,000, you should understand that it probably is a steal: the auctioneer wants to steal your money and either not deliver or perform a bait and switch.
  2. Call the seller. Ask if you can inspect the car before finalizing the purchase. You’ll also want to ask whether they have a clean title in their possession.
  3. If paying via escrow, is it licensed? Speak with a representative of the escrow company, check out their website and do whatever you need to feel comfortable. Don’t settle for a link the seller gives you.
  4. Do not give any sensitive financial or personal data (Social security number, credit card number, bank account info, etc.) until you’re certain the escrow company is trustworthy.
  5. If the seller insists on one escrow company, beware. They could be trying to steer you into being exploited.
  6. Send the escrow a question via E-mail. No response, no business.
  7. Scan the escrow website. Sloppy grammar could be a red flag. Also, use a duplicate content sniffer like Article Checker to see whether their content is simply copied from a legitimate escrow website.
  8. Money should go to a company, not an individual. If you feel pressured to sign up for an escrow account or are being asked to Western Union money right away, chances are something’s wrong.
  9. Verify the escrow has the endorsements they claim to have. Whether it’s the Better Business Bureau or something even more inside like the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, if the escrow’s website makes an endorsement claim, follow up.
  10. Don’t use online escrow websites listed as .org, .biz, .cc, .info or .us.

Be safe when you buy at car at online auction

If you’re using a large site like eBay Motors or Yahoo Auctions, use their resources for both education and assistance if you believe you’ve been scammed. Car Deal Expert always recommends that consumers do their due diligence before transacting online, whether they’re in the market for a BMW or an auto loan.


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