Purchasing an automobile is a major investment for anyone, especially today when the world has gone digital. With shopping increasingly going online, the wise customer is one who is vigilant and takes steps to protect himself from being duped or cheated. Being alert is the first step. Scams can come in any number of forms and disguises and you have to ensure that you do not become a victim.
Leading online auto tech company CarDekho suggests some key points to remember when purchasing a car online:
Beware of misrepresentation of vehicle condition
Even though you are buying car online, always meet prospective buyer or seller in public places like shopping malls, public parks, inside societies, at convenient garages etc. Make sure you don’t make the purchase solely based on pictures provided to you by the seller. Make personal checks and verification to ensure that the used car you are buying is not damaged or turns out to be a different model than what was advertised. Consult a car expert before making the purchase.
Always double check the requisite documents and ensure they are in order before you complete the transaction. Do not take the next step unless you are satisfied with everything. Many times, people create false documents which come across exactly like a real one . Be extra careful while checking the document and in no case make any advance payment.
The seller can pose himself as a diplomat who wants to move out of the country and has to sell his car or can pose as NRI/expat who has already moved abroad claiming that car is parked at Airport cargo/parking and in order to see or get car delivered buyer needs to pay airport cargo charges in advance. Also due to pro-army sentiment, many sellers pose as Army/Navy/Air Force guy and share his services ID card, rank, and post to come across as a genuine seller. They ask for advance money to be deposited into account as a process to get entry into the army camp or any other cooked up charges. In any case never make any kind of pre-paid transaction without the asset delivery, since cars are not immovable property.
Check and review the Vehicle History
While considering purchasing a used car, ensure that you are on a verified site that provides you with a wealth of information about the history of the vehicle. Find out the number of reported owners and the last known actual mileage, or if the car has ever been involved in a major accident.
Demand for identification
There have been many instances of buyers meeting persons selling a vehicle that doesn’t belong to them. So, check for ID and to ensure that the person owns the vehicle that is on sale. If that is not the case, simply walk away.
If you come across a car that is a ‘total steal’, be skeptical. Check the actual price of the car. The seller might give you excuses as to why they had to keep the price so unbelievably low. Walk away if it even remotely sounds fishy. Sometimes these fraud sellers will advertise a car at a certain price and when contacted blithely inform potential buyers that the advertised deal is no longer available. They will then attempt to sell you the same car at a higher price. Steer away from such ‘bait-switch’ schemes and inform the competent authorities about it.
Check for credible warranty report
TrustMark warranty is available on pre-inspected certified cars, which goes through a 217-point inspection by CarDekho’s trained and qualified engineers. This is something you can check to allay doubts if any.
Beware of escrow scam
This scam tricks you into thinking you’re sending money to a legitimate escrow company when in fact it is just a fake web site run by the seller. The seller usually lists cars at too good to be true prices. Usually they have a good back story and need to get rid of the vehicle quickly. They ask you to send money to this fake escrow company. Once you do, they take the money and run, never to be heard from again.
Always inspect the car personally before purchasing it
It’s a red flag if a seller doesn’t want to talk or meet in person and only communicates via email or text. Another warning sign includes a seller mentioning they don’t currently have the vehicle with them. It is advised to go with someone, preferably someone who knows a lot about cars, to check it out with you.