Hidden in Plain Site: How to Find Curbsiders Who Sell Cars Online
If you’re looking to buy a car, you’ll find no shortage of people selling them. There are all sorts of dealerships. You’ve got the used dealers, and the new ones that are virtually empty rooms, with half a car on display and a large touchscreen against a wall somewhere. And then you’ve got the private dealers and sellers. They’re the more obscure group of the bunch. Many of them are sellers – not affiliated with a dealership – and it makes sense why they’re so obscure, because many of these people are out to take your money. They’re known as curbsiders. And the sole intent of these individuals is to part ways with your hard earned money, selling you a car that may require serious repairs.
It’s the year 2015, and we’re losing our patience faster than ever in human history. Admittedly, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not too far from the truth. People want things in a hurry. Things have changed considerably in terms of the way people shop for cars, especially now that the process begins (and sometimes ends) online. In previous years, shopping for a car took a lot of work as you had to physically walk into the dealership or heavily inspect the vehicle. Nowadays, we make up our minds after checking a few pictures and getting some reviews from our friends about the car. By the time we test drive the vehicle or sit in it, we’re pretty much sold. That leaves us vulnerable to fraudsters.
Curbsiders are aware that the desire to buy a car sooner-than-later, and they’re taking advantage of our urge to have things right away. That’s why they often sell vehicles at prices that seem too good to be true. And that’s why those deals almost always appear on sites such as Kijiji or Craigslist (not to say that they’re completely fraudulent), where people are looking to save a few bucks. Those sites won’t get shut down just because of a few sour deals – shoppers make transactions at their own risk. And for that reason, you have a legion of curbsiders out there who get away with defrauding innocent people like yourself. A victim of such crimes can always take the offender to court, but the process is usually time-consuming and emotionally draining.
When Customers Meet Curbsiders
Disaster strikes when drivers in need of a car meet with devious private sellers. Like many deals, everything seems fine at the beginning, but very quickly, the shopper might start noticing strange behaviour from the seller. If they don’t see it, a spouse, sibling, good friend or child may recognize it, and let them know. At that point, it would make sense for the buyer to look elsewhere. But in those instances where the person can’t see the red flags (or ignores them), then that individual may spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle that’s faulty or dangerous to even operate. What makes it even more tragic, is that they could have prevented it.
Two Sides of the Wrong Coin
You’ll find that private sellers have dozens of tools they use to deceive unsuspecting shoppers. That’s why some of them slip through the cracks at times. However, there are a few tricks which are commonly seen among fraudulent sellers, and it’s important for you to recognize them.
2 Commonly Used Tricks
- Inaccurate information about the vehicle – Curbsiders often provide information about the vehicle that’s untrue, either by overstating its quality or understating its flaws (such as failure to mention damage from an accident). For that reason, it’s absolutely essential for you to inspect the vehicle yourself before spending a dime on it. The other dimension to this problem is the pricing of the vehicle – it’s often too good to be true. Unfortunately, this is what often hooks buyers in. They see a car for a price that they just can’t find elsewhere, and dive in head first. However, this is one of the signs they need to be weary of.
- Misrepresentation of the seller – Another trick curbsiders rely on is to misrepresent themselves. Yes, they do so by damaging their own reputation, but in the context of this article, they use misrepresentation as a means of making it hard for you to find and hold them responsible. For example, they violate the auto industry standard of providing a Used Vehicle Information Package, which gives thorough details about the car’s condition. Another sign of their deception are inconsistent credentials, such as the name on the vehicle ownership not being the same as the seller’s driver’s license. To top it all off, these sellers are known to avoid meeting you in a real location, or if they do, they might pressure you to buy the vehicle immediately due to some sort of emergency.
Beware of the Snakes
Fortunately, the fight against curbsiders is one you can win, providing you understand what they do, how they do what they do, and the tricks needed to spot them. The good news is that it doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes-level of reasoning to find out who’s honest and who’s fake.
The Face of a Curbsider
- They refuse to give reports on the vehicle’s history
- They deny you the opportunity to let a mechanic inspect the car
- The car they’re advertising hasn’t been registered with the seller for a suitable amount of time
- They’re in a hurry to sell the car due to an “emergency” (often untrue)
- They don’t list basic contact information (email address, phone number etc.)
They Can Hide, But Not for Long
Yes, curbsiders are a real threat to car shoppers, and it’s in your best interest to be on the lookout for them. You have the power to dodge them! However, it takes some diligence on your part to recognize and avoid their tactics. But it’s important for you to take note of their ways, so that you don’t become another victim of their tricks. That means doing your research about them beforehand, and getting to know them in fuller detail. Be observant. If you notice that they’re pushy and unrealistic with timing or prices, then be very cautious of them. Your gut instincts can’t give you the fullest picture, but you should always trust them if something doesn’t feel right.