Securing Safe Payment

Whether you're dealing with a buyer in person, via email or over the telephone, always be careful when accepting payment. Scam artists are good at what they do; remember these steps to make yourself less vulnerable:

  • Never wire money to a potential buyer under any circumstances. If a buyer pays via a check or money order, accept only the exact amount of the sales price.
  • Confirm with the issuing bank that the check is valid. Look up contact information for the bank on your own, as a forged check likely will include a phony bank address and phone number.
  • When possible, go to the bank with the buyer to verify the check's authenticity. In addition, it's a good idea to request a cashier's check drawn from a local branch.
  • Stick to your timeline and don't rush the transaction. If the bank is closed when the buyer wants to pay you, hold off until you can verify the check's validity. If possible, wait until the check clears the bank before handing over ownership of the vehicle. How long that takes will depend on your bank, but it should be less than a week.
  • If the buyer chooses to pay by money order, follow the same safe-payment guidelines for accepting checks. Verify the name and amount with the issuing bank, and request a money order from a local bank whenever possible.
  • If those methods leave you feeling squeamish, there's always cold, hard cash. Your best bet, however, may be Escrow.com. It's legitimate and offers equal protection for buyers and sellers. There are other such sites online, but be sure you are certain of their legitimacy before you use them.
© Cars.com 4/30/13