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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Tornare

How to avoid scams when buying a used car?

Feel like you've come across the car deal of the year?

Beware, it could be a scam. The spread of online sales sites and listings has contributed to the increase in scams.

In this article, learn how to identify and avoid them.

Carequest Car Broker Switzerland, Handover of keys on purchase of a used car

There are different types of car purchase scams, which usually aim to get money or private information, for instance by charging the buyer for a non-existent vehicle or asking for personal information for a transport that will never take place. It is also possible that the seller tries to sell a car that does not match the description in the listing. To prevent such unfortunate situations, we have decided to make a guide to help you identify scams.

How to identify a scam?

Too good of a deal

Sometimes you come across a deal that seems too good to be true. Although some are real, an overly attractive deal is one of the main signals of a scam. One of the indicators is a price well below the average.

Lack of information

An unclear advertisement that does not mention some essential information can indicate a scam or a bad seller. If the seller is evasive and does not answer questions, the first alternative is more likely. Are the pictures used in the listing taken from the internet or another listing? Then you can be more or less convinced that it is a scam.

A second clue to a fake listing is that it is impossible to find information about the seller. If the vehicle is on Facebook Marketplace and the seller's profile is empty, this may be a sign of a fake account and, therefore, a scam.

Unlikely situation

An unlikely situation is also an indication of a scam. That is the case, for example, if the seller is temporarily in a foreign country and cannot be present at the handover of the vehicle. In addition, the vehicle may be in another country. Further, the buyer must wire the money to a foreign bank. While this situation is possible, it is unlikely. Although the scam may seem clear at first sight, it can be hard to realise once you are involved in the sales process.


It is normal for the seller to pressure the buyer to close the sale. However, excessive pressure can be an indicator of a scam. This is the case, for example, when the seller uses surreptitious arguments to force the buyer to pay a deposit quickly or to obtain his personal information. Typically, he announces that the sale price will increase in the next few days or that there are many other potential buyers and that he should therefore act quickly.

How to avoid scams?

Due diligence

The buyer should do some research on the vehicle he or she wants to buy and the seller. This includes information about recurring problems with the model in question, but also about its value. This will make it easy to identify the bad from the good, or even the too good offers. It is also important to read the information in the listings carefully.

Checking the vehicle

It is not advisable to buy a vehicle without seeing it first. Despite beautiful photos, a perfect visual condition or the seller's promises, defects (accidents, hidden faults, falsified speedometer, technical problems, etc.) can be dissimulated and turn into expensive bills. Also, some signs of wear and tear may indicate that the advertised mileage does not correspond to reality. This is why the buyer should be critical and go to the vehicle to examine it first. If the seller does not want you to see the car, walk away from the negotiation.

Buying from a dealership

Buying from a private individual is known to be riskier than buying from a professional. However, going through a dealership reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk. Even if most dealers are honest, there is a small percentage of malicious people. However, buying from a brand agent or a reputable dealership should nearly eliminate the risk of scams. This system also has its flaws. For more information, we recommend our article on the topic.

Outsourcing the purchase

By hiring a professional (e.g. a broker) to buy your car, you greatly reduce your exposure to scams and keep a great deal of flexibility as to the make or type of vehicle. In addition, a serious broker should have insurance, which guarantees that even if something goes wrong, you will get your money back. Of course, this professional must be trustworthy. That is why you should use Carequest. You can find more reasons why you should outsource your next car purchase here.


The car industry has a relatively bad reputation. However, it turns out that only a minority of car buyers have ever been genuinely ripped off. Although this is (relatively) rare, it is important to take precautions. It should also be said that any online purchase is risky.

An excessively good deal or an evasive and pushy seller are typical signals of a scam. So if you don't trust the situation or feel threatened, it's best to end the discussion. If the seller turns out not to be malicious, you will have avoided a bad buying experience. Also, it is better to miss a good deal than to make a very bad one.

To protect you from this kind of hassle, we offer you our services. Carequest is your trusted partner for car buying. We take care of everything, from the search to the delivery of the vehicle. This way, you save time and ensure that the car you buy is also the one you want.


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