Car buying scams: How to avoid them
In just about every area of life there's always someone trying a scam, and the process of buying and selling a car is no exception.
Here are some things to look out for when buying:
Too good to be true
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. There are reports of cars with extremely low offer prices, but on further investigation (often after you've had to pay a fee), it's revealed the car is located overseas. You can research similar cars on the internet to see if what you are being offered is realistic.
Never transfer money before you've seen the car, and especially not into an overseas bank account or via Western Union, Moneybookers, Paypal or similar.
Your personal details
Don't supply any website logins or credit card details, even if the email looks like it has come from us or one of our partners.
Don't reply to any emails that look like they have come from us or one of our partners congratulating you for buying or selling your vehicle.
Who are you dealing with
Be sure to get a New Zealand address and phone number, and preferably the number plate so you can run a vehicle check on Checka
You might be able to verify contact information using the Whitepages, or by doing a quick internet search.
The only way to protect yourself is to get a Checka vehicle ownership report. Look for a vehicle as being flagged as wanted by the police, or a vehicle that has changed ownership very recently. Checka will give you both of these flags if the car looks suspicious.
Don't buy a car that has an unpaid loan (a security interest). If this loan isn't paid before you take ownership, the secured party (usually a finance company), can repossess the car and sell it to recover their money. You have no recourse in this event. Check the car using Checka. You can pay some money directly to the finance company when buying the car, rather than the owner.
Only use this website
Protect yourself by only looking at cars through one of our web addresses:
Advanced fee fraud
Often called Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud this will be in the form of a letter or email that is sent to you offering (usually) a huge sum that is being held in your benefit. The origin of the letter is usually Nigeria. Do not get involved at all.
Selling your car
If you are allowing someone to take your car for a test drive check your insurance covers you in this instance. Obtain something of value from the person test driving the car (like their keys and a credit card), even if you go on the test drive.
Below is an example of an email from a known scammer.
Thanks for your swift response... Can you please email me the present condition with the full price ?
Due to nature of my job i will not be able to come for inspection, am a very busy type as i work long hours everyday,i have gone through your advertisement and i am satisfied with it.
I would have loved to talk to you on phone but i am a petroleum engineer I work mainly offshore, our phone is down on the rig right now due to bad weather, we can only communicate with our base for now.
As for the payment..i will be paying you via the fastest and secure way to pay online(PayPal).
I have a private courier agent that will come for the pick up of the car at your home after the payment have been made and they will also sign all necessary documents on my behalf after the payment have been made, as they will also be coming with all the information needed, my details and transferring the name of ownership to me will be done by the pick up agent so you don't have to worry about that...
You can now send me your PayPal email so i can pay in right away and also include your address in your reply.If you don't have a paypal account, you can easily set up one...log on to www.paypal.co.nz and sign up. its very easy.I await your reply asap.
If you are selling, always make sure you call the person back. Get their phone number, and call to check it's legitimate.
Phishing is an attempt to get you to divulge usernames, passwords and financial information by pretending to be from a legitimate company (often your bank). You will usually be directed to click on a link which looks like it's legitimate, but will take you to a false website, or will install malicious software on your computer such as a key logger.
Never divulge your personal information by responding to an unsolicited email.
To protect yourself against phishing:
Don't click on links in emails unless you know where they go, or what they contain
When replying to emails, don't include usernames, passwords or other financial information
Don't assume that just because you're looking at a website that looks authentic that it is authentic. Always check the browser's URL bar, and if possible, type the URL into the URL bar so you know it's correct.
- Don't enter personal information into a pop-up window
- Protect your computer by using anti-virus software and spyware protection
- Phishing can happen on the phone – a person can call claiming to be from your bank and might ask for your details.
- If you find out you've been scammed, act immediately. Call the organization who you thought you were contacted from.
- You can report suspected fraud using this contact form
How should you pay?
- Pay on delivery – ensures you get to see the goods first
- Cash – get a receipt, though as there's no proof you made the payment if you don't
- Cheque – this gives you some time to cancel the payment if a problem arises with the goods
- Internet transfer – don't transfer money overseas until you've got the goods and can verify authenticity; if you're transferring in New Zealand, the number is traceable.
- Credit card – credit cards have protection clauses. Familiarise yourself with these.