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Steer Clear of These 5 Car-Buying Scams

Car-buying scams have been around since the invention of the automobile. Today, with the option to buy online or from someone thousands of miles away, simple rip-offs can catch anyone off guard. Here are five shifty scams and how you can avoid them with some pedal-to-the-metal, buyer-beware tactics.

  1. Online Sales Scams
    Beware of fake car ads that the seller doesn’t even own. Anytime you’re buying a car online, request as many photos as you can, including a photo of the vehicle identification number (VIN). If the VIN doesn’t match up with what is being sold, cut off all communications. And if the seller demands you pay in gift cards, skip it. This is almost certainly a scam. Other fraud signs include a lack of online reviews (not even bad ones), extra-pushy sales tactics, and a seller who won’t/can’t meet in person.
  2. Title Washing Scams
    Services such as Carfax and more offer you the chance to review a car’s accident, recall, and service history. However, it’s easy to create a fake history report to hide accidents and branded titles. Instead of accepting a report from the seller, get your own online. The small expense could save you thousands.
  3. Flood-damage Vehicle Scams
    The lure of high-priced used vehicles continues to bring flood-damaged vehicles to the market. In some cases, the damage is never reported. That means the title could be clear even when it should be salvaged. To avoid this scam, look for mud and sand under seats, rust around doors, loose carpet, as well as moldy smells and overall decay. Does the vehicle have a strong carpet-cleaning smell? If so, it could have been damaged in a flood. The National Insurance Crime Bureau has a database to help you spot a salvaged title.
  4. Low-Price Scams
    If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Criminals will post photos of exotic or otherwise expensive vehicles they don’t own in hopes of snagging a victim. Those who fall for this scam will send the con artist money for a vehicle they will never receive.
  5. Financing Issues
    It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you’re buying a new or used vehicle. But it’s also easy to skip past high-interest rates, crazy lending fees, and other charges. Instead, secure your financing before you start shopping. We can help you apply for a Clearwater Vehicle Loan.

Skip-the-Scams Checklist

  • Insist on an inspection. If you’re buying a used vehicle, always take it to your own mechanic (even if the seller insists that it was looked over by a pro).
  • Verify the seller’s identity and ownership. This means ensuring the name on the title matches the name on their license or identification. If there are any questions, contact your local DMV.
  • Get a vehicle history report. Options include CarFax, Kelley Blue Book, and more.

Shift Into Action Against Fraud
If you or someone you care for has been the victim of fraud, the Federal Trade Commission wants to know about it. Report any car-buying scams you encounter at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, file a consumer complaint with the Montana Department of Justice, and email [email protected].

Merge into the Right Loan  
We’ll help you find the perfect vehicle loan to fit your budget and improve your financial future. Is this your first car or truck loan? Sign up to attend one of our financial classes. They’re free, and can help you understand the lending process, how to apply, and what to look for in a loan so you get the best deal.


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