If you are hoping to sell your car privately, there are quite a few things you are going to want to know in terms of how to make sure the process is as easy and as profitable as possible for you.
There are of course tips and rules to follow when it comes to making your car look its best so that you can net the most amount in return, but what about safety?
Selling a car can be a potentially dangerous task because you are sharing information about your car with a stranger who may have nefarious goals in mind.
Avoid wasting time with non-serious buyers
One thing you have to be sure about is that you certainly will get inquiries from individuals who aren’t seriously about buying.
While this doesn’t necessarily impact your safety, it can be a real time suck to invest your time communicating with someone who is not a genuine potential customer.
Generally, those who are not really serious about buying your car are simply looking to see how readily you will reduce the original price. They want to see if they can randomly score a sweet deal on a valuable car at your expense.
There is, however, a darker side to these non-serious inquiries. The worst-case scenario is that some people are looking to scam you in one way or another. These are the people you have to really look out for. They will do their best to make you believe that they are really interested in your car.
The way to avoid any risk to really be aware of what kinds of things scammer say so you can identify them early before you get caught in their trap.
Avoid Scammers With Rock Solid Screening
Knowing how to screen each inquiry that comes your way is about as good as it gets in terms of performing a basic screening to protect yourself from time-wasters and potential scammers.
Screening may sound like a big serious word, but a few simple questions will make sure you get to the point quick.
- What is the person’s full name: If there is any hesitation on other party’s half to divulge this type of simple information simply hang up the phone or do not reply via email or text. Trust takes a two-way street and if you cannot trust them, then you shouldn’t be wasting your time with them.
- Is the person local to your area: People contacting you from far away and especially from overseas is an immediate red flag. It typically means that their reason for contacting you is wholly self interested and they are certainly not serious about purchasing your vehicle. On top of their full name, make sure to get their personal phone number and home address. Again, if they don’t divulge, cut off communication immediately.
- Do they want to see the vehicle in person: Anyone who wants to make a serious offer and really consider buying your vehicle is surely going to want to see it in person and probably give it a test drive as well. If someone is claiming they are willing to deal without doing either of those is likely not worth your time in any way.
How to Avoid Stranger Danger
Just so you know, these kinda of incidents are incredibly rare, but it is not a bad idea to be aware of them.
Back in 2017, a man advertised his car for sale online and had the “buyer” come to his home to look at the car. Two men showed up, pulled a gun on him, robbed him, and then struck him in the head and fled the scene.
This is a serious risk, obviously, and while it rarely ever happens – there are ways to make it happening even less likely.
The first thing you want to keep in mind is to limit the amount of personal information you give out. Often times scammers are not interested in your car, but are instead interested in your information when it comes to what kind of information they can get about you. That’s because they want to steal your identity.
To protect yourself from identity theft, set up a new email account to manage inquiries.
On top of that, refrain from giving out your home phone number as savvy scammers can actually find out your home address from that information alone.
When you do meet people who want to see the car, make sure that you are doing so during the day time and in a very public and heavily trafficked place.
Unless you are selling your car to family member or friend, never allow a prospective buyer to come to your home to buy the car.
Good places to meet is something like a grocery store parking lot, a retail outlet, or somewhere that you know has video surveillance cameras looking at the outside.
On the adverse side, never agree to meet with anyone in a isolated or deserted place. In fact, if that is something they request, you may want to consider cutting off all communication.
Another great way to avoid something going very wrong is to bring a friend with you. Any potential attacker will be immediately deterred when they see that they are outnumbered. If a friend cannot join you, make sure a friend knows where you are and what you are doing in case something goes wrong.
Finally, if you are going to allow a driver to test drive the vehicle, make sure that you get a picture or photocopy of the person’s drivers license.
How to Avoid Unsafe Forms of Payment
There are many ways that an individual may try to take your car without really paying for it.
In order to avoid these scams, keep the following in mind.
First off, cash may seem like your preferred form of payment when selling your car privately. But there are things to consider. First off, cash could be counterfeit, and unless you are trained on how to spot or identify counterfeit cash, you may be out of luck.
On top of that, it’s pretty risky to be walking around with a ton of cash directly after the sale.
Checks and even cashiers checks can also be fake, as can online transfers. So how can you make sure that you are really getting paid for your car?
First off, when you determine what your preferred method of payment is, be sure to be clear and forthright about it from the onset.
It is crucial that you be in the driver’s seat when it comes to how a customer pays for your car. Also, make sure that payments are not set up in some kind of monthly deal. Someone has to pay upfront or they simply don’t get to walk away with the keys.
Every single way that a scammer can make fake payments can be stopped in their tracks thanks to you simply adopting two simple rules for accepting payments:
- Never let a buyer take possession of your car or sign over the title before you’ve verified that the funds are in your bank account. Signing over the title and handing over the keys should be the very last thing you do. Don’t do it until you see that money in your account.
- Meet at your bank to accept the payment so you can verify the transaction. A cash deposit will be immediately examined by the bank. If the buyer is paying with a cashier’s check, it might take a few days for it to clear, so make sure the buyer understands they don’t get the car until the payment clears.
If your buyer wants to write a personal check, you can agree to meet at the buyer’s bank. Their bank has to cash the check for you as long as the buyer’s account has sufficient funds to cover it. That way you have the money in hand before transferring ownership of your car to the buyer.
Avoid Fraud Claims After Selling Your Car
After selling your car, you may feel as though all the potential risks and pitfalls have come to an end. You’d be wrong!
In fact, one major risk is a customer claiming fraud because they decide they are unhappy with the car or sale for one reason or another.
Luckily, there are some great ways to avoid that very pitfall.
The first thing to go over is what your liability is when you sell a car “as is.”
Part of that includes that you need to be upfront about any mechanical or cosmetic issues that it may have. People who are buying a used car are doing so for a reason – because it’s cheaper than getting a new car. Given that info, it’s important for you to be honest about any shortcomings the car may have and price it accordingly.
If you are not upfront about those shortcomings, a customer could claim that you lied on the sale and sue you for fraud. If they sue you for fraud unfairly, there are several ways that you can protect yourself.
Your most useful tool against potential fraud claims is the truth. Honesty really is key when it comes to selling your car online privately.
If your car’s brakes barely passed inspection, don’t tell a potential buyer the brakes are like new and work just fine. While the truth may end up costing you a bit on the sale, it is much better than getting caught in a lie. If you get caught in a lie, you can find yourself in serious legal trouble.
The complicating factor here is when you fail to disclose a material fact.
If your car was in an accident and you had to have the frame straightened, that’s something you will absolutely want to mention. Failing to mention something like that can be a legal problem even though you didn’t technically lie about anything, you just didn’t share everything you knew. Again, honesty is the best policy. Give the buyer the most complete picture possible concerning your car’s history and condition.
Avoid Post-Sale Liabilities
The final type of liability to be aware of when you are completing the sale of your used car is to make sure that the purchase and ownership transfer is correctly taken care of at the legal level.
The truth is that if you fail to complete the transfer of ownership and anything happens to the car, you could be financially and legally liable.
To make sure that the transfer of ownership – and therefore liability – has been completed is to make sure the buyer fulfills their end of the bargain and completes their part of the transfer as well.
In order to do this, make sure you go with the buyer and have the forms looked at by a professional to ensure that all of them are correctly and comprehensively filled out.
This is another use of your valuable time, but when selling a car privately it is crucial that you do so keeping all of these possible risks and pitfalls in mind.
It will result in not only a positive selling experience, but a positive experience after the sale is completed as well.
If you are interested in finding out the ways to avoid these types of pitfalls, one thing to consider to to get a business to help you sell your car.
Here at Car Planet, we by like new or old used cars at a premium price and take care of all of the hassle that comes with selling your car privately. While you may be able to get a slightly better deal if you opt to go on your own with the sale, you could actually end up saving money in terms of time and effort by letting Car Planet get your cash for your car!