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Scams to Watch Out for When Selling Your Car


Selling your car can be a stressful experience, especially when it comes to dealing with potential scams. To help you navigate through this process, we have compiled a list of common scams that you may come across. By being aware of these scams, you can easily identify and avoid them, allowing you to focus on successfully selling your vehicle.

Fake Cashier’s Checks: A Growing Concern

With the advancement of technology, fake cashier’s checks have become increasingly prevalent. These counterfeit checks can be incredibly challenging to detect, even for experts. To safeguard yourself, we recommend taking the following precautionary measures:

  1. Verify the Check: Prior to handing over your car’s title and paperwork, contact the bank mentioned on the check to confirm its authenticity. Avoid calling the number provided on the check, as it may be part of the scam. Instead, search for the bank’s official phone number online and use that to make your inquiry.
  2. Cash the Check at the Issuing Bank: To ensure immediate availability of funds, consider cashing the check at the issuing bank.

Personal Checks: Proceed with Caution

While personal checks are not often used for transactions anymore, it’s important to exercise caution when accepting them as payment from a car buyer. Unlike cashier’s checks, personal checks can be canceled after they are written, allowing the buyer to keep both the money and the car. Additionally, there is no way to verify if the buyer has sufficient funds in their account. Therefore, if you decide to accept a personal check, it is crucial to:

  1. Wait for Funds to Clear: Only sign over the title once the funds from the personal check have cleared and appeared in your bank account.
  2. Consider Alternatives: If the buyer expresses any resistance or reluctance in following these procedures, suggest using a cashier’s check (following the recommended precautions) or find another potential buyer.

By staying vigilant and being aware of these common scams, you can protect yourself and ensure a smooth and secure car-selling process.

Don’t miss: Thieves can empty your bank accounts if you’re still using this outdated payment method

Fake shipping scam

An increasingly popular scam involves a potential buyer insisting you help them 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 then expected 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 they sent to the supposed shipper.

See: A guide to selling a car to a friend or family member

Tips for selling a car

Of course, this isn’t a complete list of scams. As we discover more scams, scammers get more creative and develop new ways to take our money. So we have a few tips to offer if you’re selling your car.

You can avoid any scams by using Autotrader’s Private Seller Exchange marketplace, where sellers can list cars and buyers can purchase them all in a secure environment. The service verifies all identities and handles all paperwork, including title and funds transfer.

If you choose to handle the transaction and sale not using the marketplace, follow these additional tips.

  1. Don’t sign over anything, especially the car title, until the money is in your account and any payment is verified.
  2. Be sure to talk to the buyer over the phone or in person to establish a rapport.
  3. Most importantly, walk away if a deal feels like it isn’t right. There will always be another buyer, a legitimate one, for your car.

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