How to stay safe from online car scams

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5 min read

Private car sales go on every day, but so do private buyer scams. People are often at their most vulnerable to fraud when they are conducting a large one-time transaction. People tend to be more cautious when they’re buying, but sellers often overlook the possibility of getting scammed by potential buyers.

There are many different methods used to scam someone trying to sell their car online, and there are too many untrustworthy platforms and dishonest buyers out there. In our humble opinion, the safest and most secure way to sell your used vehicle is through reputable businesses and verified buyers.

So how do you protect yourself and get a good price when selling your car?

what to watch out for in car buying scams

buying the car sight unseenLegitimate buyers want to know the quality and performance of a car before they lay down the cash. Even junk buyers want to assess the vehicle to offer the right value. Anyone offering to buy without seeing the car, or at least asking substantial questions (like Peddle does!) could be a red flag.

proposing an unknown escrow serviceEscrow is placing funds in safekeeping during a sale. However, there are many fly-by-night "escrow services" that disappear with the money before you get paid—and might also hack your bank account (if you entered bank information) in the process. Something as benign as using the same password as your bank account could leave you exposed to scams.

asking for your personal information Look out for anyone fishing for your personal information, especially bank or credit card info, your social security number, or a photo of your driver’s license.

intentional overpayment

Although it may seem like a stroke of good luck at first, if a stranger sends you a cashier’s check or money order for more than the agreed-upon price of your car, you could be getting roped into a very common “intentional overpayment” scam. It’s more common than you’d think—a dishonest buyer will say “whoopsie” and request you refund the overage they paid. When in fact, the original money was never legitimate. Better not to venture out into the wide, wide unknown, and instead make sure you get a clear, legit offer to begin with.

how to get a fair and safe deal for your car

only use known and trusted services

Do your research, ask questions and don’t blindly take buyer advice on a new mechanic or escrow service. Protect your vehicle and its value by only using known and trusted third-party services during your vehicle sale.

choose a safe, well-lit location Another red flag is the potential buyer suggesting a remote location. Make sure you feel comfortable where you’re conducting the trade.

sell your car online to a trusted business

Lucky for you, there are trusted, reliable businesses out there who are looking for cars like yours (no matter how broken down it may be!). So you can avoid the scam-risk of working with an individual buyer entirely. Car-buying businesses (like Peddle) make it possible to know that your buyer is legitimate. Check out reviews (both the rating and how many they have), their Better Business Bureau rating, how long they’ve been in business, how much experience they have, and the terms and conditions. Permanence is one of the best signs that a service or person is not a scammer looking to disappear without payment, so you’re looking for lots of cars purchased, lots of reviews, etc.

selling to Peddle: is Peddle legit?

When you’ve faced all the typical hurdles involved in trying to get rid of an old car, Peddle can sound too good to be true (maybe we make it TOO easy?), so this question comes up a lot. But the answer is YES! Peddle has purchased over 2 million cars nationwide and we have tens of thousands of 5-star reviews from happy sellers.

Peddle really will buy ANY car, no matter the condition. The process is super fast and easy, and we pick it up for free. You never need to speak to a rep (unless you want to!). And the best part is that we always pay fair, market value—it’s automatic, built-into our instant-offer algorithm.We have a huge network of nationwide buyers, so it’s way easy for us to move your car. Cars in good condition may be sold as used to new buyers, while older and more broken models are sold to junk and scrap yards, without you having to worry about that second step of "what now?" when selling your vehicle.

here's how to sell your car with Peddle:

  • Step 1: Answer 12-ish questions about your car.
  • Step 2: Get your offer.
  • Step 3: Accept offer w/in 7 days.
  • Step 4: Create an account + schedule your free pickup.
  • Step 5: Receive your $$$ when we take your car.
  • Step 6: Eat celebratory tacos (optional).

Don't let a private sale stress you out. If you’ve decided to sell your car online and don't find the perfect buyer the first time you list, the Peddle team would be glad to help you choose a trustworthy, no-stress alternative.