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Car Buying

Selling Your Car: Common Scams

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

Selling your car can be stressful. To lessen the stress, we've listed a few scams that you may run across when trying to sell your car. If you're aware of these common scams, you'll be able to spot them -- and that means you can ignore the scams and devote your attention to selling your vehicle.

Fake Cashier's Checks

With improving technology, fake cashier's checks are becoming more common. Even experts have trouble spotting such checks. Our suggestion: Call the bank to verify the check before handing over your car's title and paperwork. And don't call the number on the check, since that could be part of the scam. Instead, use an online search engine to get the bank's phone number and verify the check that way.

Personal Checks

It's true that most people writing personal checks aren't scammers, but we still wouldn't accept one from a car buyer in most cases. Personal checks can be canceled after they're written, meaning the buyer can keep the money -- and the car. Plus, there's no way to verify that the buyer has the funds in his or her account. If you accept a personal check, wait for the funds to clear and be sure the money appears in your bank account before signing over the title. If the buyer has a problem with that, suggest a cashier's check -- or find a different buyer.

Fake Shipping Scam

An increasingly popular scam involves a potential buyer insisting he or she wants to ship a seller's car overseas or across the country. In this scam, the buyer sends a check to the seller for more than the car's price. The seller is supposed to send the extra money to the buyer's shipper. But after the seller wires the money to the shipper, the check turns out to be fake -- leaving the seller out whatever money he or she sent to the supposed shipper.

Our Tips

Of course, this isn't a full list of scams. As we discover more scams, the scammers seem to get more creative and come up with new ways to take our money. So we have a few tips to offer if you're selling your car. First, don't sign over anything until the money is in your account or the check is verified. Second, be sure to talk to the buyer over the phone or in person to establish a rapport. And most important: If a deal feels like it just isn't right, walk away. There will always be another buyer -- a legitimate one -- for your car.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Selling Your Car: Common Scams