Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by Bernard Juchli
Selling your car on CL gives you goosebumps; you feel you’d get scammed. Fortunately, this article discloses how to sell a car on Craigslist without getting scammed.
Most CL scammers are not locals; they are foreigners hunting uninformed sellers. Most scammers are not necessarily after your vehicle. They’d typically send you a fake check, and convince you to wire money to their bank account. The common excuse might be to tell you to run the VIN check on a site they’d give to you. When you enter the credit details on the site, typically a phishing website, your credit information is stolen.
How to Sell a Car on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed
This section reveals the methods regarding how to sell a car on Craigslist without getting scammed:
Know Your State Laws
First, check with your state guidelines regarding the sale of used cars to a private buyer or dealership. Typically, states require copies of the paperwork and proof of selling the car. The paperwork would include title, the release of liability, the release of lien (if applicable), and license plate. Regarding the license plates, check whether your state mandates returning the license plates or giving them to the buyer.
If the buyer is an out-of-state buyer, find out about their state laws regarding selling a used car.
List the Vehicle for Sale
Sign up on CL and list your car ad. Note that about 1/3 of the buyers will lowball. For example, if you list a car at $7,000, some would bid $3,000.
About another 1/3 would-be scammers. Scammers typically ask too many and unnecessary questions. Eventually, they will ghost the deal or ask to send you a check higher than your asking price.
You would be tempted to accept the offer, but they are fake checks. Meanwhile, do not accept check payment.
Another 1/3 of the bidders are people that are genuinely interested in buying the car. They will enquire about VIN check, test drive, available paperwork (title and bill of sale), and payment method. They will show up but will price at 75% of your asking price.
Trust No Buyer
On Craigslist, you’re not supposed to trust the buyers. But do not distrust everybody; you just must be careful with the people you deal with.
Some buyers are car thieves and may dispossess you of the vehicle at the slightest opportunity. Besides, CL is a marketplace for cars without odometer disclosure, salvage title cars, fake paperwork, and rolled-back odometer reading.
Craigslist scammers and criminals get smarter by the day, and you must rely on your innate intelligence to sell your car and no get scammed.
Pay Attention to the Buyer’s Grammar
Crappy grammar is one of the signs of a scammer. When a buyer contacts you, engage them in a video conversation or voice call. As mentioned earlier, most scammers reside in foreign countries, and would not be fluent in your language.
You’d also receive emails with notable grammatical errors. The messages typically contain mouth-watering promises and fake claims. When a claim is too good to be true, it’s a sign of a scammer in your inbox.
Just ensure to have a video call to be sure you’re transacting with a real buyer and not a scammer. Note that some texts you receive are automated. So, a robot would not know how to bargain.
Trade with Locals Only
One of the best practices regarding how to sell a car on Craigslist without getting scammed is to trade with locals.
You may enter a deal with a buyer out of state, but a neighboring state is recommended. If you trust the buyer enough, and they are willing to visit your state, or you have a decent geographical sense of their out-of-state neighborhood, proceed with the transaction.
Negotiate in Person
Do not negotiate the used car price over the phone or via text and email. The buyer has seen your asking price. However, you are not certain whether they have the money. Some might turn up to inspect the car and depart with no initial buying intention.
Be sure that the funds are in place and then negotiate slightly. By the way, do not overprice your car. Keep the pricing reasonable enough to get rid of excessive lowballing.
Finally, decide on a meeting location. Your meeting point should be a public center. You may use the bank or any safe public venue to ensure your safety. If possible, have a friend or two accompany you.
Request Valid Driver’s License Before Test Drive
When the buyer visits, verify their identity. Request their valid driving license before your permit a test drive. Most buyers would not pay cash before a test drive, so you remain in the car with them throughout the test drive. A test drive might take up to 30 minutes.
Make sure the potential buyer test drives the vehicle within public roads and not in desolate areas. A buyer can display a fake driver’s license. So, inspect it thoroughly before acceptance.
Inform the Buyer to Come with a Mechanic
Inform the buyer to come with their mechanic for necessary check-ups. And do not allow a potential buyer to take the car to a mechanic without payments. Besides, they can swap/switch parts and claim that the vehicle is faulty.
Request Cash Payment
Do not accept a payment method other than cash payment from a buyer. You can complete the cash payment in a bank. Also, request notarized signatures.
It’s a big value transfer because you receive cash outside your bank account from the buyer. The teller then confirms the money and the bills before disconnecting the buyer. The possibility of getting scammed of payment is eliminated in this manner because the buyer can’t wash a forged check through your bank account.
Apply for Release of Liability
You may be able to request a liability release online, depending on your state. Inform the buyer that you’d be submitting an instant release of liability to your local DMV or the responsible motor vehicle agency in your state.
Make sure to submit the application after receiving cash and before the buyer leaves with the car. This practice protects you from being victimized, such that the buyer can use the vehicle for robbery or crash the vehicle in an accident, which is traced to your name. Of course, you’d be liable for the damages.
Complete the Paperwork
Make sure to complete the paperwork in a safe zone like a bank. Keep copies of the paperwork for future reference, including the bill of sale and title.
Depending on your state laws, you may have to give the license plates to the buyer. If the buyer is out-of-state, you are to return the plates to your state DMV since it is registered to the vehicle.
If your state does mandates keeping the plates, you can use the as a souvenir, hang them in your garage or use for crafts.
Mail in the Title
If you accept check payment, do not give the title to the buyer. Wait for their check to clear into your account and mail the title to their address. So, if the check is fake and you do not have the car, you can report it as stolen and present the title to the police.
Make No Guarantees
Do not make Guarantees to the buyer. The buyer is purchasing the used vehicle “as is”, so it has no warranty, except the manufacturer’s warranty still covers it.
Some guarantees to avoid include the expected mileage the vehicle will reach without breaking down, promising to replace any broken part, etc.
Inform Your Insurance Company
When you sign over the car, inform your insurance company. Also, let the buyer inform their insurance to insure the vehicle before driving off. In this manner, the car is covered by buyer’s insurance, so you are not liable for subsequent damages.
What to Do if You Have Been Scammed Selling a Car on Craigslist
If you have been scammed on Craigslist selling a used car, report the car as stolen to the police. The title will be reported as stolen. Contact your DMV and inform them about the incident. If you gave the title to the scammer, apply for a duplicate title immediately. The duplicate title voids the original.
Also, inform your insurance and make a stolen car claim. If you are financing the car, inform the bank or lender that the car was stolen under false pretense.
This article has completed its essence, which is to guide you to avoid getting scammed when selling a car on Craigslist.
Although Craigslist is a breeding ground for scammers, there are still sincere buyers on the platform. Just make sure to be smarter than you have ever been. Also, apply good judgment. When a deal or proposition by a potential buyer feels too good to be true, it could be a scam.