How to Avoid Scams When Selling Your Car Privately
Publication date: 04/19/2023

When selling a vehicle privately, it's important to be aware of potential scams and take steps to avoid them. While most buyers are honest, there are always a few bad actors looking to take advantage of sellers. Here are some tips to help you avoid scams when selling your car privately.

  1. Meet in a public place

    When arranging to meet with a potential buyer, choose a public place that is well-lit and populated, such as a shopping center or busy parking lot. Never invite a stranger to your home, as this can put you and your family at risk.

  2. Don't accept personal checks

    Personal checks can be easily faked or bounced, leaving you without the money for your vehicle. Instead, ask for a cashier's check or money order, which are more secure forms of payment.

  3. Beware of overpayment scams

    Some scammers will try to overpay for your vehicle and then ask for the excess funds to be wired back to them. This is a common scam and can leave you out of both the vehicle and the money. Be cautious of any buyer who offers to pay more than your asking price.

  4. Don't share personal information

    Never share personal information, such as your social security number or bank account information, with potential buyers. This information can be used for identity theft or to access your funds.

  5. Check for counterfeit bills

    Before accepting cash as payment, make sure to check for counterfeit bills. Look for the watermark, security thread, and other security features to ensure the bills are authentic.

  6. Don't release the vehicle until payment has cleared

    It's important to wait for payment to clear before releasing your vehicle to the buyer. This can take a few days for a cashier's check or money order, so be patient and don't rush the process.

  7. Verify the buyer's identity

    Ask for the buyer's driver's license or other form of identification to verify their identity. This can help prevent fraud and ensure that the person buying your vehicle is who they say they are.

  8. Avoid shipping scams

    Some scammers will offer to buy your vehicle without seeing it in person and ask for it to be shipped to them. This is a common scam and can leave you without both the vehicle and the money. Always insist on meeting the buyer in person and completing the transaction face-to-face.

  9. Use a bill of sale

    A bill of sale is a legal document that outlines the terms of the sale, including the purchase price, vehicle information, and buyer and seller information. Using a bill of sale can protect you in case of any disputes or legal issues that may arise after the sale.

  10. Trust your instincts

    If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and be cautious of any potential buyers who seem too eager to buy or offer unusual payment methods. If something doesn't feel right, it's better to walk away from the sale than to risk being scammed.

In conclusion, selling a vehicle privately can be a great way to get a fair price for your car, but it's important to take steps to avoid scams. By following these tips and being cautious when dealing with potential buyers, you can protect yourself and ensure a smooth, successful sale. If you’d rather avoid these precautions all together, selling to a dealership can be a quick and secure option.