The Regina Police Service has received several files this year related to the purchase of used vehicles from on-line sales platforms and dealerships.
Some tips for purchasing a used vehicle that can protect the buyer from fraud:
- Do your research to determine what the vehicle is worth – is the vehicle priced fairly. Use an internet site that the buyer can input the make, model, mileage, etc. to determine the value of the car. (Kelley Blue Book, CARFAX, Auto Trader, etc.)
- Obtain a Pre-Purchase Inspection – this will determine the cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition of the car. A good mechanic can help determine existing conditions and potential future problems that may arise. This will have a cost, but it could potentially save you in the long run.
- Search the VIN on CPIC – a public search of the VIN number can be done on the Canadian Police Information Centre’s website to determine if the vehicle has been reported stolen. This can also be done through SGI for a fee.
- Obtain a vehicle history report – Companies such as CARFAX can provide a Vehicle History Report which can provide information including if the vehicle has been in an accident, liens, service history, reported stolen, etc.
- Caveat emptor – buyer beware – always do your due diligence! Complete the above steps and ask questions. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away. Don’t feel pressured or rush into making a purchase.
Tips for private sale of a vehicle include:
- When meeting a potential purchaser meet in a neutral location where you feel comfortable.
- Go along for the test drive. Again, if something doesn’t feel right, go with your instincts.
- Cash is king! – Always examine the bills to ensure that they are genuine; use extreme caution if you are accepting US funds (ask yourself, does this make sense?)
- E-transfers – this can depend on the price and the purchaser’s daily transfer limit. E-transfers can be recalled if there are not sufficient funds in the buyers account
- Certified cheques or bank drafts: most financial institutions can verify if the cheque or draft is legitimate. Present the cheque to a teller to have it verified as legitimate, don’t deposit it via an ATM or mobile deposit.
- If someone offers/sends you a cheque for more than the asking price the cheque is likely counterfeit, especially if they are asking you to send the extra funds back to them.
Save yourself some future hassle and take steps to protect yourself. The majority of the issues reported to police have not been criminal and resulted in a civil court proceeding.