- Never send money abroad
- Never pay a large deposit
- Don’t hand over your vehicle until you’re satisfied the funds are in your account. Check with your bank that you can withdraw funds safely on the cheque
- Remember that your bank will not honour fraudulent drafts or drafts that cannot be cleared through lack of funds
- Don’t be pressured into releasing your vehicle. A genuine buyer will not mind waiting until the draft has cleared
How to ensure your payment is made safely
No matter whether you're buying or selling, a smooth payment is the best way to end a successful transaction. Here, we explain how to take the risk out of making or receiving a payment using the main options that are available. Whichever method you choose, though, never send money for a vehicle you haven't seen.
- First, you receive a cheque from the buyer
- Days later, your bank informs you the cheque was forged
- The result is that the buyer has already taken posession of the vehicle and you’re left without payment
Be particularly wary of buyers who view your vehicle after the banks have closed and produce a bank draft already made out for the full asking price.
- First, the buyer transfers the payment to the escrow service
- Then, the buyer takes delivery of the goods
- Finally, the escrow service releases the payment to the seller
In a typical example, the ‘seller’ places a fake advert with an unusually low price to grab the buyer’s attention. When the buyer enquires about the vehicle, they’re sent a standard reply, promising to waiver the shipping costs and suggesting payment is made via a particular escrow service. After the money is sent, the buyer becomes impossible to contact and untraceable.
If you are concerned that you are in such a position, look for signs it may be a fake escrow service. These include false licence numbers, logos and copyright details, as well as a mobile phone number disguised as a foreign landline.
- A legitimate service will never ask you to wire the funds directly to another party
- Look for sites which have a padlock icon at the bottom of your screen and ‘https://’ at the start of the website address – this means the site is secure. Avoid ones that don't
- If you’re suspicious, type the company’s name into a search engine. A legitimate escrow service will have a number of results listed, whereas a fake escrow site will have very few
- When receiving cash, ask for the money to be handed to you in a bank, where the notes can be checked for forgeries and paid in immediately
- If you take a cheque, never let the buyer have your vehicle until the funds have appeared in your bank account, as the cheque could be forged, cancelled or stolen
- Bank drafts, contrary to common belief, are not as good as cash, so treat them just as you would a personal cheque
- An online bank transfer is one of the safest ways to pay, as it avoids having to handle large amounts of cash and the problems associated with cheques