How to avoid car sale scams

6 Tips to ensure you are not a victim of a car sale scam

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Here are a few useful tips to ensure you get the best car deal and avoid being scammed:


1. Avoiding scams 101

If a car is offered at a much cheaper price, ask yourself why? As the saying goes; “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”.


Make sure the seller has a valid address – start by searching for the address on Google Maps. Ensure the seller's contact number is valid – be wary of mobile phone numbers. Keeping your own safety in mind, meet with the seller, and never make a purchase without viewing and test-driving the car first.


2. Payment

Only pay for the car when you physically collect it from the seller. Be wary of requests for upfront payments, private information, a false sense of urgency or requests to provide unnecessary details – this smells like a scam.


Never send money overseas – it’s often the preferred method of a fraudulent seller acquiring money illegally.


3. History check

It is important to ensure a history check on any car you’re interested in purchasing. It will tell you whether it is:

  • Recorded as stolen, written-off, or scrapped
  • Recorded as previously repaired by an insurer after an accident
  • Has outstanding finance or has been leased
  • Uncover mileage discrepancies and confirm registration details, the number of owners, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as well as other original details. This allows you to confirm details with the seller against the car’s paperwork


History checks are also available for bikes and vans. The benefit of buying a car from a reputable dealer is that they can provide you with the history check.


4. Test drive the car

It’s really important that you physically check the car and see the documentation. Never buy without seeing or test-driving the car first, preferably in daylight when it’s easier to spot any damage.


For your own safety, ask a friend to accompany you on the test drive and decide the test drive route before hand.


5. Price

Always check the car’s market value by getting a valuation, or comparing the price with other similar models advertised. If it’s being offered at a much cheaper price, be sure to ask yourself why.


6. Paperwork

Ask the seller if you can see the original NATIS (registration document) and Road Worthy Certificate. Check that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on these forms is the same as that on the car. This number is commonly found on the chassis or on the windscreen. 


Also ask to see the service history before handing over any money. Ensure all documents are the originals and not photocopies.