Avoid Car Scams in South Africa

Whether you are buying or selling a car, you should always take the necessary precautions to avoid being scammed. This article offers advice on how to avoid car scams in South Africa.

What are car scams?

A scam can be defined as an intentional, deceptive, fraudulent activity with the intention of obtaining money or possessions from an individual. The person responsible for the scam is commonly known as a scammer'.

What are the signs of a car scam?

Car scams can be presented in many different ways and usually occur via the Internet, E-mail or SMS. The following are common signs of a scam:
  • The price of the car is well below the market value
  • Scammers will refuse to provide sufficient contact details. The phone number provided is either faulty, remains unanswered or goes directly to voice mail
  • Scammers will usually make an excuse for not being available via telephone
  • Scammers may demand the full price of the car, or a deposit, to be transferred immediately. Once they have received money they fail to release the vehicle and become difficult to contact
  • Scammers often claim to live overseas or have some kind of hidden agenda

How can you avoid being scammed by a car seller?

Cars.co.za makes a considerable effort to ensure that every private vehicle advertised is a legitimate vehicle. Nonetheless, it's important to know how to avoid being scammed by a private car seller, take note of the following:
  • Never transfer or hand over cash to a seller if you have not seen and verified the vehicle
  • Always meet with the seller in person, preferably in a public place
  • Always do a history check on the vehicle to ensure that it's not stolen and that the car's details match those on the ownership registration and roadworthy documents
  • Check that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches the number on the owner registration and roadworthy documents and that the VIN number on the car has not been tampered with
  • Check that the seller's address matches the address on the registration and roadworthy documents
  • Research the car's value by searching for similar models on Cars.co.za. If the value of the car is far below what it should be, it could be a scam
  • Check the service history of the car
  • Scammers prefer to use email as a preferred method of communication. Always contact the seller via a phone number, preferably a landline number
  • If you suspect fraud or are a victim of a scam, contact your nearest Police station immediately
  • If you wish to verify the legitimacy of a vehicle on Cars.co.za contact 011 450 2450
*Tip: If you feel unsure about the car, the seller or the documents rather walk away.

How can you avoid being scammed by a car buyer?

To avoid car scams by a car buyer take note of the following,
  • Never allow a potential car buyer to test drive the car alone, it may even be required to take another person on the test drive with you
  • Ensure that the potential buyer has a valid drivers licence and sufficient insurance in case of an accident occurring while on the test drive
  • Never leave the car or the keys unattended or left in the ignition. A key swop is a common method used by criminals to steal a car
  • Be wary of car buyers who do not want to view the vehicle in person
  • Be wary of payments made by cheque. If a buyer pays with a cheque, wait until the check has been verified, cleared and given value by the bank before transferring ownership or handing over the vehicle
  • If the buyer wants to pay with cash, arrange to meet at the bank where the cash can be verified and banked safely,
  • Always check that the correct amount of money has been received before transferring ownership or handing over the vehicle
  • If you suspect fraud, or are a victim of a scam, contact your nearest Police station immediately
*Tip: Find out as much as you possibly can about a potential buyer. Summary Whether you are buying a car or selling a car, always be on the lookout for car scams and take the necessary precautions to avoid being scammed. Be vigilant at all times.