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8 steps to avoiding the common car-buying scams

Posted: 7:28 PM, Aug 01, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-02 15:25:04-04

It started when my son crashed our car. He's okay, but the car was totaled.

So I began the hunt for another inexpensive car for the kids.

On Craigslist, four of the five ads I chose were later flagged as scams

The other was a dealer posing as an individual owner.

If you buy used or sell a car:

  • Never buy unseen or have the vehicle shipped
  • Don't wire money or accept checks
  • Meet face to face
  • Complete the transaction at a bank or police station

Make these demands and scammers will likely run.

With no luck online, I called dealers

Some dealers wouldn't give me vehicle identification numbers to check the car's past.

Others only had salvaged cars in my low price range.

I visited a few lots and found some wouldn't even let me take the car to a mechanic to check out before buying.

Make sure to:

  • Have the car inspected
  • Arrange to finance before and compare to dealer offer
  • Never accept spot delivery (taking the car off the lot with no financing in place)
  • Get a written contract that must include all prices and financing details

You should also get a Carfax or comparable vehicle history report to see the car's past. I eventually bought from a dealer who provided me with that report.

Check out the latest scams we're seeing. Sign up for our monthly email newsletter by clicking here.

Need my help? Call the Assistance League of Phoenix volunteers at 1-855-323-1515. You can also send me an email or a video email where you attach a video explaining the problem.

And you can reach me on Twitter, "like" the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there.

AND WE NEED YOUR HELP!  If you want to be a volunteer and help other consumers, let me know.