Car Scams: How to Stay Safe while Buying or Selling on Gumtree

Whether you’re buying or selling a car, websites like Gumtree have made it easier than ever to get a good deal. However, you could still be vulnerable to sophisticated car scams. Read on to discover the most common Gumtree car scams and stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with this guide. If you spot any of these scams, remember to always use our reporting procedure to make us aware.

How to avoid scams when selling your car privately

How can you tell if someone is real on Gumtree?

If you’re unsure about another buyer or seller on Gumtree, simple steps like double-checking their identity can help you avoid people who aren’t honest.

You should be wary of red flags, including a seller offering you a deal that seems too good to be true or a buyer telling you that they don’t need to see your car before paying. If any communication from a buyer or seller seems odd, or they make any requests you’re not comfortable with, you should walk away from the sale. 

If you’re a buyer, always insist on seeing the vehicle. If a seller makes excuses or says that you can’t see the vehicle, this is a sign to be wary – they might not really be a seller, there may be something wrong with the vehicle, or the vehicle may not exist.

There are some simple steps you can follow to help make sure someone is a genuine buyer or seller on Gumtree: 

  • Try to confirm that all the necessary documentation is in order
  • Avoid clicking on untrustworthy links shared with you
  • Don’t exchange sensitive information like your banking details until you’ve met the other person
  • Collect the buyer or seller’s full name and do some research online to make sure you can trust them.
  • Learn how to screen for fake IDs and email addresses
  • Finally, use our tips for safe buying and general safety tips to ensure you’re shopping securely

Can you get scammed selling a car?

Unfortunately, it is possible to fall for car selling scams on Gumtree. However, knowing the different kinds of scams can help you to avoid them. While Gumtree remains a top choice for private car sellers to meet buyers, it’s important to keep an eye out for the different kinds of tricks that fraudsters use.

Claims by a buyer that they overpaid you can be a tell-tale sign of fraud, and you shouldn’t grant requests for a refund unless you’re completely sure that the buyer did overpay.

How to avoid scams when selling your car privately

What to do if you get scammed buying or selling a car

In the case that you’ve been scammed on Gumtree, you should use our reporting mechanisms to let us know. 

You can report an ad on Gumtree by navigating to the ad page and clicking the report button under the seller’s name. This notifies us so we can take down problematic ads and block users from using our platform. You can also contact us directly to report suspicious activity or potential scams. In the case of a fraudster having your banking information, we recommend that you also contact your bank directly and notify them as soon as possible. If you’re considering reporting a scam to the police, it’s worth taking a look at our article on reporting first.

Common scams to look out for when selling a car

Keep an eye out for the following scams – if you notice any of them, don’t forget to report the user to us. 

The “Dirty Oil” Trick

This is the oldest trick in the book, but unfortunately, it seems that fraudsters keep getting away with it. This scam usually involves two people – one person distracts the seller, while another quickly slips oil into the coolant reservoir. This will cause some smoke to come out of the engine during the test drive, allowing your buyer to potentially get a discount on the listed price.

The best thing to do is to get a thorough inspection of your car and list all the faults in the advertisement. This way, you’ll avoid the buyers who are just contacting you for a bargain price. Be confident enough to refuse a sale if you feel doubtful.

Payments Through PayPal

Although PayPal and other money transfer websites try to keep customers safe, these systems aren’t always foolproof. Scammers may try to convince you that a payment has been completed when that isn’t the case. One common trick involves sending a seller a fake receipt that indicates that the buyer has completed the transaction.

To avoid car purchase scams via PayPal, make sure you only set a date to hand off the car after you’ve seen the amount reflected in your bank account.

The Overly Confident Buyer

Always be wary of buyers who insist that they don’t need to check out the car before they purchase it – it’s very unusual that a genuine buyer won’t want to see the car first. These people are likely to report you for damage and ask for compensation weeks, months, or even years later. They may claim that you misrepresented the status of the car in your advertisement. It’s also possible that they’ll ask you to take responsibility for an accident that wasn’t your fault.

Make sure that you report all the faults in your car clearly in your online advertisement. Describe the status of your car accurately and even mention minor issues with electricals or paintwork.

In order to ensure the safety of sellers and buyers, Gumtree follows strict guidelines for online safety and has partnered with OPP to offer you a secure payment option. Make sure you’re always using our safe trading practices to avoid getting scammed on Gumtree, and report any potential fraudsters so we can block them from using our website in the future.

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