How to Avoid Fraud When Buying a Car Online

The pandemic changed the way we all live, and cyber criminals followed close behind this booming trend. Since more people are working and conducting business online, fraudsters have taken to the internet like never before. 

There are numerous advantages of buying a car online, such as convenience and obtaining the best deals. You can source your dream car online that may not be readily available in local dealership centers. Whether you’re buying a new or used car, the online world provides you with unlimited options. However, like any other business transaction, buying a car online also comes with risks. Hence, you need to empower yourself by knowing the red flags.

Since we’re also shopping online in record numbers, virtually all American consumers could lose money or data access with just the click of their mouse. Large purchases pose the highest amount of risk, and the auto industry is taking a few critical steps to combat these threats.

Whether you’re shopping on an online marketplace or a virtual showroom automotive platform, these tips will keep you from falling prey to the most common data siphoning tactics.

In order to protect your personal information and private data, it’s critical to avoid these common pitfalls. Here are some easy ways to avoid fraud when buying a car online.

Know Where to Shop

Shopping from reputable sites and services is probably the easiest way to prevent your information from getting lost in the cybersphere.

Reading trusted consumer and corporate reviews, such as the Better Business Bureau, is a great way to gauge the legitimacy of a website. 

Additionally, look for the following traits in your online vendor services to make sure that you’re shopping on a trusted and established retailer’s site.

Use an Encrypted Connection

Did you know that fraudsters can steal information right from your data connection if your messages and files are not encrypted? Data encryption is critical for anyone who is transmitting financial, personal, or sensitive information online.

There are a variety of ways to make sure your data is encrypted. Popular options include:

  • Using only https websites
  • End-to-end enabled apps
  • Secured browsers with built-in protections

Before downloading a program or using a website to conduct business or make a purchase, be sure to check for data encryption. This method will scramble any information you send online to keep prying eyes from getting a hold of your credit card number, social security information, contact details, and more.

Safeguard Personal Information

Once someone has access to enough of your personal data profile, they can use this information to place transactions under your name, steal from digital accounts, and other threats. Keeping your personal identifying information out of the wrong hands is arguably the most important step in this entire process.

Before visiting a site, check that the URL precedes with “https” to ensure that the connection is secure. This is the first step to take before assessing any potential ecommerce sites or marketplaces.

Verify The Vehicle Information

Before you get too excited to buy a car online, make sure to verify important vehicle information first. Obtain the vehicle identification number or VIN from the seller and verify this information from the automotive manufacturer. The VIN pertains to a unique, linear 17-character sequence assigned to every car during production.

You can also use a free vehicle history report online, offering critical details on a second-hand or used car. The reports come from government and industry sources, which show the vehicle’s current and past condition and defects and recalls. It also includes the car specifications, fuel efficiency, inspection checklist, safety rating, auto insurance details, market value, and equipment details.

When you decide to check the vehicle, bring a trusted mechanic. In this way, you have a professional to inspect the second-hand car for significant issues.

Stay Calm

Buying a car is a major decision, but it’s important to keep your wits about you during the online shopping process. Cyber criminals are waiting for online users to slip up just once by clicking an infected link or using a compromised form.

If a price or offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. It’s as simple as that. Avoid falling for enticing deals that are considerably cheaper or more sensationalized than comparable options.

Before heading into the car buying process, have all of your details and criteria planned out ahead of time. This will help you to avoid tempting impulse buys or hair-trigger decisions.

Now that we’ve become used to handling most of our daily tasks online, it’s not surprising that the automotive industry has taken the dive into ecommerce. But, this means that this is one more facet of our personal lives that can be accessed by online hackers and attackers.

Keeping your data safe during an online car-buying transaction is essential as we head into 2021. These core tips will provide you with a strong foundation to find your ideal car on the web, without the stress.

Will Hopstetter
Will is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United Kingdom. He holds a diverse background in automotive and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.