In today’s digital age, nearly everyone has heard about the need to protect themselves when conducting business online. Fraudulent activity is the use of online mediums to make fraudulent offers to sell or buy products, items or services for financial or personal gain. Many fraud deals involve shipping, wire transfers, overpayment or cashiers checks. To help you better protect yourself from fraudulent activity, here are the top 10 ways to avoid scams for buyers and sellers:
1. Know the vehicle’s market value. Be suspicious of any vehicle priced significantly below market value. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Maintain a healthy skepticism when making an online purchase.
2. Inspect the vehicle. Have a professional mechanic or inspection service inspect the vehicle to check for defects or anything that doesn’t meet the safety standard. Keep in mind that this doesn’t guarantee that all defects will be found.
3. Confirm contact information. Verify the seller’s physical address and phone number before sending payment. Zip codes, area codes, and addresses should match up. Check with public directories and try to meet the seller in person in a safe place.
4. Do not send personal or financial information via email. This includes social security numbers, credit card numbers and checking account numbers.
5. Do not use money transfer services to pay for online purchases. Money transfer services such as Western Union even advise against this. Once the seller receives this money, there is no way for you to get it back. Be cautious of any seller who will only accept money orders as payment.
6. Make sure escrow services are reputable and valid. Use your own escrow service, not one the seller recommends. Also, be sure to never click links to escrow services (or any other links) in emails. Type the URL directly into your browser.
7. Get a detailed receipt. Make sure the receipt states whether the vehicle is sold with warranty or “as is.”
8. Get title to the vehicle. Know what is required in your state to transfer title to the vehicle you’re buying. If you’re a seller, make sure you don’t transfer the title until payment is received in full.
9. Make sure checks are genuine. Verify authenticity with the issuing bank prior to depositing a check. Even if your bank accepts it, that does not mean that the account has sufficient funds.
10. Be cautious of individuals posing as agents. This is especially true when dealing with someone from outside of the country.
Online scammers can be difficult to spot, but being mindful of these tips can help prevent you from being taken advantage of. If you are suspect of fraudulent activity please email email@example.com immediately to help us better protect you.