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How to stay safe when buying or selling your car

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How much do you know about the person you are meeting?

The increase in online car sales means it is more important than ever to stay safe when buying or selling your car online. Here are some important steps you should take when buying or selling a car online.

The hidden dangers of online car sales

Madison County, Illinois. Student Taylor S. Clark had posted an advert selling his Nissan 350Z on Craigslist, a US free listing website. He had arranged a meeting with a prospective buyer and driven out to show the car in person. Two days later, Clark was found dead, a short distance away from the car he had been hoping to sell. A man has now been charged with his murder, and the reasons why he was murdered are still ongoing. The only thing that remains clear at the moment is that Clark had gone out to sell his car to a stranger, and had ended up killed.

This sad case is, thankfully, one of the extreme examples of what can go wrong when buying or selling a car online. Here in the UK, we are lucky that there isn’t the access to guns as there is in the US. But there have been cases of people meeting with strangers, only to end up assaulted in some manner. The potential for large sums of money being involved, in particular with cash transactions, are likely to become prime targets for thieves and fraudsters.

It may seem like fearmongering, but the potential for danger when meeting to view a car is something that you have to consider. More and more people are using online classified adverts to sell their car person to person. A big part of this is the viewing of the vehicle. So how can you stay safe when buying or selling your car?

Tips for keeping safe

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Consider these tips before the viewing.

The vast majority of online car sales will end up with a face to face meeting. This is your chance to inspect the car in person, or provide a viewing to a potential buyer. Either way, you should be preparing for these meetings in advance. We talked through some top tips for actually selling your car. Here are our tips for keeping safe when meeting a buyer/seller in person.

Don’t go alone:

The best way to stay safe is to take someone else along with you. Having another person with you will not only help you to relax, but it could also put off someone who is meeting with you for the wrong reasons. Don’t be afraid to tell the person you are meeting that you are bringing a friend. Try to put it in a polite way, not make it sound like you are bringing someone along because you are suspicious. If the person you are meeting is genuine, then they will be happy for you to bring a friend.

Tell someone your plans:

If you can’t bring a friend, or even if you are, you will want to tell someone your exact plans for the viewing. Letting someone know who it is you are meeting, where the viewing will take place and at what time, will mean that if something does go wrong, then someone you know will be able to report accurate information to the authorities. In all likelihood, everything will be fine. But just in case, it’s well worth doing.

Don’t bring cash with you:

It is important you do not carry a large amount of cash for the first meeting. If someone has arranged the meeting for malicious reasons, then they are probably after your money. Tell the seller that you wish to view the car first, then you will arrange out the payment. Although a nuisance for someone wanting a quick sale, this will give you some protection before any transaction. Besides, if you like the car, you won’t want to delay payment too long in case it gets sold to someone else.

Don’t bring documents:

The same goes for documents. If you are the seller, you want to keep hold of the registration documents until you have received payment.

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Meeting somewhere public is an excellent idea.

Arrange the viewing in a public place:

Meeting with the buyer or seller in a public place is likely to put off anyone with bad intentions. The more people there are around, the less chance there is of something untoward happening to you. If you arrange the meeting near your bank, you can proceed straight to payment if the viewing goes well, and it will all take place in a safe space.

Always meet in the daytime:

Meeting during the daytime is not only much safer, it will also make you much more relaxed. Nighttime brings shadows and connotations of crime and danger. Unless it’s in the middle of winter, you should always organise a viewing time during the day. And if you have to meet in the winter, try to do it on a lunch break or at the weekend when it’s light.

Better safe than sorry

In the vast majority of cases the person you are meeting will be entirely genuine. But the old saying is still relevant – “Better safe than sorry”. Prepare in advance, just in case. Remember that you are there to buy or sell your car, so ensure you are friendly and approachable whilst getting what you need from the meeting. Doing it a safe way is just common sense.

More from Creditplus:

Looking to buy a car? Creditplus use an extensive network or trusted dealers to find the right car for you. Either check out our vehicle search or apply online for a decision on your car finance options.

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