4 Used Car Buying Scams You Need to Avoid Today


How to Shield Yourself From Buying a Wreck

Buying a used car should be a good deal if the vehicle is good and the price is right, but watch out for those looking to take advantage of you. With the average cost of a used car over $20,000 and climbing, it is an investment you can’t afford to miscalculate. Yet, many consumers fall victim to used car scams whether or not they appear to be obvious.

There are harmless tactics such as embellishing a used car’s previous owner or misleading advertising verbiage. The dishonesty of some crooks, however, can leave you with a lemon and no way of recovering your money.

Purchasing a used car should be a painless process, but beware of the following common scams when you are ready to get your next used vehicle.


1. Title Washing

Cars involved in catastrophic events like a collision or flooding are legally required to have this branded on their title. Because a branded title may deter prospective buyers, scammers will attempt to retract this information illegally. This trick is one of many car selling scams known as car title washing. Let’s take a deeper look.

Watch the video below to see the Car Title Washing Scam exposed:

Title Washing Explained Video

Before agreeing to any purchase, obtain a used car’s VIN. Many online resources are available to perform a thorough search of a vehicle’s history that may not be apparent from the surface level.


2. Taking Advantage of Your Credit Score

If you plan on financing a used car, know your credit score before walking through the door. Dealers will pull your credit score for you, but do your homework to avoid being scammed. Many resources are available for pulling your credit score independently.

Even if your credit score isn’t perfect, a questionable dealer may claim that it’s lower than it actually is, to inflate your annual percentage rate (APR). This scam helps a dishonest salesperson receive a higher commission based on your interest rate plan.


3. Odometer Fraud

One of the many scams when buying a car online to be conscious of is a manipulated odometer. Nearly half a million vehicles are sold each year with a rolled back odometer. This can be easily combatted by comparing an odometer’s mileage to a car’s title and service records.

Although many services are available to sell junk car vehicles regardless of their milage, scammers deceive unsuspecting buyers due to the appeal of low mileage. Another good indicator of how to know you’re being scammed is analyzing a car’s age and condition compared to its production year.


4. Unnecessary Costs

One of the final steps of purchasing a used car involves a formally prepared contract between the buyer and seller. It’s evolved into a cliche saying but always read the fine print. While you may be eager to get behind the wheel of your new ride, there could be extra costs hidden in the contract to scam you.

While miscellaneous dealer fees may be non-negotiable, don’t be pressured into paying unnecessary add-on protection or warranty costs you didn’t request. Just because this is blended into the contract with fancy text doesn’t mean you’re forced to pay it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for an agreement to be modified before signing.


Used Car Scams: How to Avoid

Until you sign a binding agreement, you’re never obligated to buy a used car regardless of how far along the process is. Never feel pressured to complete a transaction if you suspect used car scams are taking place. It’s never too late to verify or double-check.

Whether it’s buying a used car, applying for a job, or purchasing a house, we offer insight for any potential scams. Stay alert.


Used Car Scams: How To Report

Warn your family and friends about these car selling scams by sharing this article on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers and questionable dealers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report To The FTC Here


How To Protect Yourself More

If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

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