4 Ways to Keep Yourself Safe When Buying Cars on Facebook Marketplace

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Buying and selling used cars online has arguably never been easier. However, the online transaction process isn’t without its hitches.
As platforms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace become increasingly popular, the number of scammers on them is rising as well. More and more frequently, scammers are finding ways to swindle people using fictitious or unreliable car listings.
According to Car and Driver, some have resorted to robbery to get their money. But never fear, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to keep yourself safe when shopping for a car online.
Close-up of Facebook app on a phone screen
Watch out for scams when you’re shopping for a used car online.

How does Facebook try to prevent online scams?

Facebook Marketplace has safeguards in place to prevent scams and hackers, but their anti-fraud software doesn’t catch everything. They have Accenture workers that are supposed to review scam offers flagged by the software and other complaints from users, but many employees were caught snooping in Facebook Messenger inboxes.
The 400 or so employees also tend to be assigned more complaints than they can deal with. They each need to take care of about 600 requests a day, which only gives them under a minute to resolve them. These protections might not be very effective, so it’s a good idea to be cautious when you buy or sell a car online.

Meet in public places

Having other people around is always a good idea when meeting with a stranger. Public places give you potential witnesses and support that a private location won’t. It could make scammers hesitate if they plan on robbing you.
If you can’t agree on a more public location, you should take a friend or two with you when you meet up with the seller.

Don’t give away personal information

Try to keep your information to yourself as much as possible. Things like a cell phone number, age, or address could allow scammers to find out more about you and even come to your house if you’re not careful.
Even if a seller seems trustworthy, they are still strangers, so it’s best to be on your guard. You should only tell them what they need to know for the transaction after you’ve made sure that they’re reliable.

Scrutinize car listings

Make sure that you examine listings closely. If a deal seems too good to be true or there are only a few (or no) pictures, you should probably move on. Bad pictures make it easier for scammers to draw people in with a good offer while hiding a car’s flaws.
You want clear and direct summaries for the vehicles you’re looking at. Scammers might be wary of outright lying in case they’re held liable later, so they may try to market vague qualities that the car may or may not have.

Create a paper trail

Creating a paper trail of emails, messages, or even payment if you don’t pay in cash is a good precaution to take in case anything goes wrong. The trail can turn into a collection of evidence to help the police track down a scammer later.
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