Car Sellers Beware
May 22, 2015
Reports are increasing of a scam targeting the private, online sale of vehicles. The National Insurance Crime Bureau is warning consumers of a scheme targeting people selling vehicles on the popular online marketplace, Craigslist. Law enforcement has reported nearly 100 instances of a phony bank check being used to pay for vehicles across the country.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to warn Arkansans about the scam that leaves sellers liable for money still owed on cars, while criminals get away with vehicles.
“These con artists can print counterfeit checks that look real,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Sellers should be cautious because some of these checks can even fool bank tellers. The best thing to do is travel to the buyer’s bank to ensure the check is valid and that sufficient funds are available to complete the purchase.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for consumers who are selling vehicles on their own:
- Insist on speaking to serious buyers over the phone in order to gauge if they are genuinely interested in the car.
- Consider only selling to local buyers.
- Do not give out your home address.
- Schedule test drives in the middle of the day and in public places. Do not meet with an unknown buyer alone.
- Once you have settled on a price, meet the buyer at his or her bank to complete the transaction.
- Beware if the buyer recommends a specific escrow service, and do your research to make sure it is a legitimate company by checking with the Arkansas Insurance Department License Division. (Kelly Blue Book does not endorse any escrow services.)
- Keep documents or paper records of everything and when exchanging paperwork, redact all of your personal information.
- Never sign over a title until you have the money in hand.
Attorney General Rutledge also encourages sellers to be cautious of overpayment scams and to avoid payment plans. In overpayment scams, the buyer says that someone else owes him or her an amount that is higher than the agreed-upon selling price. The buyer wants the third-party to pay the seller directly, have the seller keep his or her share, then turn over the car and price difference. This scam can also involve a false check, which would leave the seller with even less money.
Victims of this type of fraud should go back to the website where they placed the ad and alert the site’s administrator of the scam, report the incident with local law enforcement, notify the Attorney General’s Office and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
For more information on tips to be safe online and avoid getting scammed, as well as other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at ArkansasAG.gov or (800) 482-8982 or on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.