How not to get catfished when buying a car online?

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
Our authors
, updated on November 25th, 2021       

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Buying a car online comes with the convenience of being able to find a car in the model that you want and at a price range that is suitable for your finances. However, you could be catfished if you do not put in the research and personal test the car before paying for it. Here are five tips to avoid purchasing a lemon posed as a real deal.

Take your time

One of the benefits that come with buying a car online is that you have all the time to do a thorough research through cars that match your taste and at a price range that will be suitable for you. However, this doesn’t assure that you won’t be catfished by a beautiful picture of a car that comes with an equally tempting ad description. Research conducted by the online automotive bureau revealed that 59% of Australians have fallen victim into purchasing a lemon. Make sure that you don’t rush the process by putting adequate research on legitimate sites.

What options do you have when it comes to online sites?

You have every reason to be skeptical when it comes to purchasing a car online, especially now with the rising number of online scams that are taking place. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6.09 million Australians were impacted by cybercrime in 2017.

There are some reputable sites that you can go online that do not require you to insert your private information such as inserting your banking details that criminals can get access to such as Gumtree, CarsGuide, and Auto Genie to name a few.

However, the onus is on you to be responsible as some of these sites do not have control over who posts sales on the site. If someone asks for you to send private information such as making a payment before seeing the vehicle, it could be a scam.

Do a price check

Nobody wants to be taken for a ride, especially when it comes to purchasing something as important as a car. Comparing prices for the same model online by using search filters can give you a general idea of how much the car is going for. It can also work in your favour when it comes to negotiating the cars price if you are planning on purchasing the car at a dealership. Once again, it is vital that you put in the adequate research to make this work for you.

Do a physical check on the car

When you have finally managed to spot your ideal car the next thing to do is go for a physical inspection. Unfortunately, you cannot avoid human interaction completely when you purchase a car online. Take your time on doing a physical inspection of the cars that you are interested in to ensure you are not purchasing a lemon. You can also ask the owner of the car to show you the maintenance history of the car. Whatever you do, ensure that you do a thorough inspection.

Check the cars history

The history of your car can tell you how it will perform in the future. You can run a quick search on the car on sites such as Carhistory or PPSR to see if it has been written off if it has been stolen, whether the odometer has been tampered with if it has finance owing and more.

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