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We live in an advanced technological era where digital devices have been an integral part of our lives, and we are relying on these devices to get things done: banking, grocery shopping, paying bills, etc. Did you know that 58% of Malaysians prefer to go online to purchase tickets for movies, performances, and events? Following the trend are cars, most people are now opting to browse online and purchase or sell their car online directly, rather than going through an agent or a car dealer. Makes sense, as you get to keep all the money earned to yourself, or save on having to pay fees and commissions.
Selling your car online is also easy due to reliable online sites in Malaysia, all you really need to do is upload some photos and information and you’re good to go. As a buyer, it’s easy for you to compare specs and prices online of different buyers before you even decide to test and see the car for yourself, saving time.
However, it’s always a nerve-wreaking moment, especially for first timers to buy or sell something online, because the questions on security and reliability will surface, and just around the corner, scammers are waiting to pounce on their next victim. Here are few steps to identify these crooks and how to avoid being scam while you are buying or selling your car(s) online.
Know the people that you are dealing with
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- Try to establish a phone contact with the seller/buyer to confirm on the details of the car. It is advisable to meet up face-to-face with the seller/buyer so you may inspect the car’s condition. However, never attempt to go alone and always choose a public place for your meeting(s).
- Another way is to check out their internet profiles. Scammers will try to avoid any social account(s) that will link to them personally.
- Watch out for high ranking sellers/buyers, posh social media profiles or accounts, as scammers are using fake identities to wow their victims.
- If a seller is weaving an elaborate story of how he or she needs to sell the car and is offering a price way below market value, do watch out as they could be looking to scam you through shipping fees or deposit.
Use a site that you are comfortable with
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- Avoid using sites that you are not familiar with to sell or buy your car. If you are not familiar with the site, you will never know what are the terms and conditions, process, and etc. Always go with a reputable online car sales site.
- If you are a buyer, be aware if a request for deposit is asked. Scammers will ask for your cash first, even before you set an appointment to inspect the car or to discuss further on the T&Cs.
- When it comes to selling/buying cars, it’s best to stick to local Malaysian sites.
- Do not believe anyone who says that your transaction is guaranteed by a certain marketplace or online sites.
Keep your car details private and confidential
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- Never release your car’s detail like registration number, road tax number, and registration certificate in the beginning.
- Make sure you scheduled for a Puspakom inspection personally as this is a new rule for buying/selling an used vehicle. Do not trust anyone if they mentioned that the vehicle has been inspected, because the scammer might use a fake vehicle identification.
Survey, survey, survey
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- Look out for tell tale signs; scammers always seem to be in a hurry as to create urgency so that you will have a perception that the deal is confirm/completed.
- Do not accept online transaction from any buyers as they will ‘use’ this opportunity to delay your payment and runaway with your vehicle or cash. Best to opt for COD, if you are buying/selling an used car.
- Some buyers will promise that the transaction will be made toward weekends or holidays, and by the time you notice that something is not right, it’s already too late as they have ample time to cover their tracks.
- Best to avoid any communication via email, SMS or Whatsapp. Though its convenient, but you will never know who you are dealing with. Do arrange for a face-to-face and inspect on the car’s condition, vehicle identification and etc are genuine.
Do not underestimate your instincts
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- Know the market price for the car that you are selling/buying as it should be within the market rate. If anyone if offering your car at a very high or low price, something is not right somewhere.
- As soon as you felt ‘fishiness’ on the deal, take a step back immediately and reevaluate.
The internet cannot detect online scams as they tend to move around and setting up fake accounts or identities, and come up with new tricks. It’s good to be alert and don’t get too excited over a car listing immediately. Take your time to study the whole situation and consult with someone if you are not sure about anything.
Should you come across a scammer or being a victim, make sure you report the online scam to the authorities.