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It’s becoming commonplace to do all your shopping online. But as we become more comfortable with making an online purchase, we also need to be wary of new scams. And if you’re planning on buying a car, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is warning shoppers that scams using the names of well-known automotive sites are on the rise.
According to the FBI, these types of scams were up 25 percent in 2010. Here’s how it works: These scams lure car buyers using a popular site, such as Craigslist, to post a fake listing that promises vehicle protection program from a site such as eBay. The scam even uses eBay’s official logo to make it look legit. Once contact has been made, the scam seller asks the buyer to wire money to them. There’s no car, and that’s the last the buyer ever sees of the money … the scam seller is gone. Someone falls for this scam every 90 minutes, and every hour, a perspective car buyer loses more than $1,000.
You can protect yourself against this kind of scam. Here are a few tips:
- Go see the car: Never buy a car sight unseen. Go in person to check the car’s mileage and condition, and be sure to review the title and the car’s history.
- Do a background check. While you’re doing your online research, be sure to check out the seller’s ratings and comments from past buyers. Always insist on talking with them on the phone or through a secure web site.
- Pay in person wire services. Never use wire services. Always pay in person and get a receipt.
If you come across one of these car-buying scams online, you can file a complaint with the FBI at www.ic3.gov.
[Source: Consumer Reports]