How to Avoid Scams While Buying a Used Car

Car Scam | Vehiclecheckusa | VIN Check

It’s exciting to find a used car which perfectly fits your requirements and your pocket. However, if the decision is not taken with caution, it can bring a lot of stress. It’s necessary for you as a buyer to know what exactly you are getting.

It’s a fact that buying a used car can save you a lot of money, but that’s not always the case. Whether you’re dealing with a dealership or a private party, you are at risk of being scammed. These scams can be totally avoided by doing market research before final purchase. For your benefit, we have listed used car scams in this single article.

So, next time you enter the market to buy a used car, be confident and sure about your purchase.

Types of used car purchase scams:

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  • Title Washing
  • Curbstoning
  • Odometer Fraud
  • Escrow Scams
  • Fake Certified Used Car
  • Low ball Price Scams
  • Open Recall Scams
  • Warranty Scams
  • Stolen Deposit
  • VIN Cloning

Title Washing

Title washing is a practice of washing off the salvage title of a used car. A salvage title of a used car means that the vehicle has gone through serious car wrecks or natural disasters like floods, hurricane. Salvage title doesn’t mean a strict no to the purchase, but as a buyer, you should know in detail what you are buying. Many dealers practice title washing to quote a high price for the vehicle. For more details on a salvage title, read our detailed blog post here


It’s a scam in which a car dealer will present himself as a private seller. Dealers usually do this to avoid state regulations and national regulations related to buying and selling cars.

The best way to get rid of curbstoning is by checking the seller’s driver license. If the name on the driving license matches with the car documents it means you are safe.

Odometer Fraud

Odometer fraud is very common in the used cars market. An odometer fraud occurs when someone tempers the vehicle’s odometer reading. This entire practice is done to lower the total mileage of a vehicle. Remember, it’s not difficult to manipulate any meter, and digital meter manipulation is the easiest one.  

Always try to get vehicle maintenance records for the used car you’re considering, and try to match up the recordings to the actual current odometer reading.

Escrow Scams

You are pulled into an escrow scam if you are directed to pay the money into an escrow account. Once you pay the amount the seller and the car disappear.

Perhaps the best way to avoid this scam is to meet the seller at least two to three times. If you are buying from a dealership, check online and ask others about its reputation. If it is a private seller, do all dealing face to face, including the payment.

If in the case face to face payment is not at all possible, try to use a secure payment method.

Fake Certified Used Car

Certified used cars sell at a higher price than uncertified cars. Some unscrupulous dealers try to sell their used cars at a higher price by falsely claiming that a car is certified.

Mere awareness can protect you from this scam. Understand that certified used cars come only from the franchised dealers.

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So, if you want a certified car always visit a franchised dealership.

Lowball Price Scams

It’s an easy trick to trap the customer by quoting an extremely low price and tempting them to visit the shop for final inspection. But, when you actually check in the shop the price is not exactly the same as conveyed on the call. However, now the dealer will consider you as a potential buyer and will try to convince you to the best of his ability.

The best way to get rid of lowball price scam is to do a prior research about the car value. You can also do the car value evaluation. It helps in assuring the actual price of the vehicle you are looking for buying.

Open Recall Scams

Unless it’s a serious safety issue, dealers are legally allowed to sell the vehicle with open recalls. That’s why, it’s your responsibility to check the vehicle history report of your selected used car before final purchase, and if you find any open recall in the vehicle history report you can negotiate accordingly with the dealer.

Warranty Scams

Don’t blindly trust a dealer. Many private sellers also advertise their used cars as still having active factory warranties. This might be true in some cases but often times, warranties have been voided due to issues like modifications in the car, accidents, commercial use, etc.

To be sure, try to contact the manufacturer and find out if that specific vehicle still comes under warranty, also, ask for any other additional specific warranty.

Stolen Deposit

Many sellers make the false promise, they take the deposit and run away.

That’s why it is advisable to handle monetary transactions face to face and all at once. If the seller is forcing you to a deposit, it might be time to think again.

VIN Cloning

In clear words, vin cloning is nothing but purchasing a stolen car. The entire process of VIN cloning involves taking the vehicle identification number from another vehicle and attaching it to the stolen vehicle.

You can prevent yourself from VIN cloning fraud by looking for matching registration and title information.

Apart from being aware of the types of car fraud in the market, the best way to be informed about the used cars is by checking the VIN and generating the detailed vehicle history report. The detailed vehicle history report will help you know the details of your used car on a single click in no time. 

Car Fraud | Vehiclecheckusa | VIN Check

Every used car has a back-end story and some of them are nothing short of a nightmare. So, always look for the Vehicle History Report before purchasing a used car. It will help you know if a car has a clean history or hidden problems. We have data available for every used car sold post-1982.