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5 Essential Things to Know About Car Scams


As if car buying isn't difficult enough, there are a variety of scams out there of which you need to be aware. From shiesty dealers to flat-out thieves, the following are five of the essential things to know about car scams.

Salesperson Exploitation

Car salespeople are notoriously unscrupulous, but keep in mind that they might take the information you provide and exploit it. For example, the amount you want for your trade-in is often added to the price of the new vehicle, they’ll use your desired monthly payment amount to sell a higher priced vehicle with a much longer term, or they may even tell you the vehicle you want isn’t available just to sell you a more expensive one. If you sense you're being exploited by the salesperson, just leave - you can find somewhere else to make your purchase.

Escrow Accounts

This car scam usually involves a vehicle that is way underpriced along with some kind of sob story. Then, the seller wants you to send money through MoneyGram or Western Union, claiming it is going to an escrow company. You’ll lose the money you send and never see the vehicle.


Curbstoners are dealers who sell vehicles through classifieds or Craigslist while posing as actual owners. These cars have often been totaled, flooded or are in some way damaged to the point most dealers can’t or won’t sell them on the lot. Always get a vehicle history and ask to see the title and the seller’s license to protect yourself when purchasing in this manner.

Failing to Honor Auctions

This car scam involves dealers who list vehicles without including a reserve amount. Once you win the vehicle, the dealer will refuse the sale – usually because he or she didn’t get the amount desired. In some extreme cases, this scam goes even farther and the dealer accepts your payment without offering up the vehicle. Always do a thorough check on sellers before agreeing to purchase. You’re sure to find other bad deals with a bit of research.

Forcing Add-ons for Qualifying

Dealers may say you have to purchase add-ons like extended warranties or some type of coverage in order to secure the loan. This is usually couched in an excuse about you having bad credit. Just know that lenders never require additional purchases in order to qualify you.

There are numerous car scams out there, but these are some of the most common. Always make sure to contact YourMechanic for a pre-purchase car inspection to protect yourself and your investment.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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