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12 Car Buying Scams to Avoid – What Exactly You Need to Do? 

12 Car Buying Scams to Avoid

When it comes to car buying, purchasing a new vehicle might be straightforward and doesn't involve many risks. However, if you decided to go with a used vehicle, you might fall into many scams.

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While most common scams happen separately, many criminals decide to combine them all at the same time.

This article lists the 12 most common car buying scams to avoid and some tips on how to avoid them. 

What are the most car-buying scams to avoid? 


There are many styles of car scams that one could get involved in. However, here are the most common scams people got into in the last couple of years: 

  • “Sell fast” scams 


One of the most common cars selling the scam is if one told you I must get it out as soon as possible for different reasons. Some reasons would be there called for a military deployment, or it belongs to someone who died, and they want to sell it immediately.

These cars do not exist in most cases, and scammers only use pictures from other people's cars.

They might encourage you and provide you with a steep discount that doesn't seem to get you to fall into this scam. 

This scam works to ask you for partial payment upfront and before seeing the vehicle or meeting with you. Once you make the payment, they will disappear.  

While if the seller provides a huge discount, if it's very far from the market's value, you might need to put red flags. Either way, you must not put any partial payments, and you must walk away if someone asks you for partial payments upfront. 

  • Fake partnerships 


Many criminals decide to show you that there are legitimate by proving some partnership with larger organizations in the automobile industries.

For example, a scammer might come to you and say he is an affiliate with eBay Motors or Craigslist. They sometimes take it to the next level and create a fake toll-free number and a very similar website to the third-party agency. 

To avoid this scam, your best thing to never trust a link or a website sent to you by the seller. Always do your homework can look online for the seller's actual website and see if They are legitimate.  

  • Dealing with gift cards 


Another common scam when it comes to car selling is requesting gift card payments.

This scam happens because the seller would ask you to call a fake toll-free number and pay using a gift card. Gift cards are not tractable, and once you do with the payments, your bank account or any agency cannot track where the money went and get it back to you. 

As a rule of thumb, never trust a seller who asks you for specific types of payments rather than the general and common ones.

The Federal Trade Commission mentioned that “If anyone tells you to pay that way, it's a scam. Every time.”

  • Scams using wire transfer 


Like gift cards, wire transfer is hard to track, and once you use this type of payment, you can't get your money back or request your bank account to track the payment.

Again, always rely on a regular payment type that you trust and never fall into this type of scam if someone asks you for a specific payment style. 

  • Protection plans 


Larger automobile websites like eBay Motors might provide you with a protection plan to avoid getting a discount.

However, some criminals in scammers might use this approach to trick the buyers. For example, they might tell you that they have connections with eBay Motors, and they are willing to provide you with such a protection plan, and you must pay for it through them. 

The solution here is never to trust any seller who suggests a protection plan unless you do your research. Go online, check for the company's name, and make sure that it's legitimate.

In most scenarios and to stay on the safe side, it's recommended only to trust larger websites like eBay Motors or Craigslist when it comes to protection plans. 

  • A fake Escrow accounts


Some online trading users have a third-party account where the seller pays the money and holds it in that account until the two parties meet all requirements.

Scammers might create a fake Escrow account and show you that this is a third-party account, while in reality, it goes to their account, and they disappear once you make the payment. 

The rule we mentioned earlier still holds here and never pay anything in advance. Please do not rely on in advance payments and accept the seller's proposed account unless you are confident about purchasing the vehicle and have it inspected and finalize the deal. 

  • Carpstoning scam 


Curb stoning refers to selling cars in an open area like a parking lot, or curbside buys shady private sellers.

Unfortunately, customers think that they got a great deal and they will be purchasing a good vehicle. However, carp stoners might sell vehicles without major parts that could be dangerous to drive. For example, they might sell you a vehicle that looks from the outside great, but it doesn't have airbags, or it's missing frame welding. 

Curbstone is illegal, and, in most scenarios, customers end up with a vehicle without very important paperwork. 

The best way to confirm that the buyer is a private buyer or a carbstoner is by giving them a call and requesting information about the car. If they asked you which car, this indicates that they are selling more than one vehicle, and they are most likely carbstoners.

Avoid curb stoners and never purchase their vehicles even if they provide you with a great deal. 

  • Issues with title washing 


Title washing is a very common scam happening in a lot of states around the US. What scammers do is that they take a salvaged vehicle in a certain state then try to sell it in a different state using a different title or a clear title.

In that case, you will end up with a salvage or total vehicle that seems like a good vehicle. To stay on the safe side, always run a quick VIN check and look at the vehicle's history. You might use Carfax services that usually tell you about the overall status of the vehicle and whether it was damaged, salvage, totaled, etc. 

  • Fake odometer 


It's not very rare to deal with a vehicle where the number is reset or misrepresent the actual reading on the vehicle. 

Again, do your homework, look at the vehicle's paperwork, request a vehicle's history report, check if you can scan in the vehicle's VIN, and compare it to the actual odometer reading you see. 

If you notice any mismatch between what you see on the vehicle and the paperwork, you're most likely might fall into a scam. Walk away. 

  • Falling into the ” needs” scam 


Have you ever come across an ad saying that this vehicle needs this type of repair?

Using the ” needs” turn India description, customers give the impression that this vehicle needs a small repair, and it can be as simple as adding some freon to the vehicle.

However, by adding this free onto the car, the problem is not repaired in it most likely a more complicated problem like requiring a new compressor.

The best tip we could provide you here is to avoid any purchased no matter what if it includes the term ” needs.”  

  • Vehicles cloning 


This type of scam might be the most complicated and hardest to detect among all other listed scams. Scammers stole VIN from a different vehicle and mentioned that this is your car's VIN.


Unfortunately, there's no straightforward way to detect this type of scam, and if this vehicle got discovered by any authority, you might face criminal charges. One tip here is that you could take the VIN and run it by the Department of ice and make sure that there are no legal issues about this volume and the vehicle matches the actual VIN. 

  • Issues with deposits 


The last scam we would like to highlight here is related to deposits. For example, you might see a vehicle with a very good deal, and the price is very attractive to many buyers.

Once you get in touch with the seller, he might ask you for a significant deposit so he could remove the car from the market.

Once you make the deposits, the seller will disappear in the wind! Like the problems we mentioned earlier, never make upfront payments even if the vehicle seems to be a great deal. 


Buying a used car can be challenging, and inexperienced car buyers might fall into many scams. 

This article listed the most common car buying scams that you need to consider and avoid in the future. 

We provided you with a professional opinion on how to avoid these scams. Some scammers might even utilize many of these scams at once. 

Keep an eye on and stay alert to such scams!

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