Buying anything online is a tough gig – you’re behind your laptop gazing longingly at potential dream purchases, you never know who is waiting eagerly for your hard earned cash to fall into their pockets.
Perhaps that’s not fair to demonise all online “sellers”, but there are a few things you should pay good mind to before you head to the proverbial checkout, especially when it comes to important purchases like a car.
Who are you buying from? The possibility that you’ll be able to give a 100% certain answer to this question is a bit of a myth. But when you are buying a car, for the primary common sense reason of safety, you want to be sure that you are buying from a reputable source. It’s no secret that criminals head up lucrative industries by preying on the naïve, non-net-savvy innocents out there. You don’t want to be left weeping, you know, like when you’re famished and the food you buy doesn’t quite coincide with what the advert promised, so be wary of….
- Fraudulent ads
- Demands for advanced payments before you’ve you know, seen (OR DRIVEN!) your potential new ride.
- Phishing emails promising “BRAND NEW USED VEHICLE, with low mileage for only $99.99!” If it sounds that ridiculous, then it probably is.
Things You Can Do To Stay Safe
Meet and greet – when you go to view the car, make sure it takes place at the business premises or home of the seller, so you have property to link back to if things do go wrong.
Print out or take a screenshot of the advert for back-up evidence.
Check for the ISIS logo – it’s a guarantee that the site has met the trading standards of the internet.
Webmaster tools like whoishostingthis and domain tools can help you find the source of the website, the hosting company, address and other details. This can help determine the age of the website and whether or not it is real.
Do your research! You’re online anyway, so take the time to browse sites.
The brilliant website, Get Safe Online, breaks down some of web-jargon you should be wary of when making an online payment, click the link for more info but here are a few key ones to remember:
- There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself … this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
- The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
- If using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner will turn green.
Buying online simply increases the risks that you should generally be aware of when buying a used car – so you’ll need to be extra vigilant when it comes to the following:
Remember that scene in Matilda, when her greasy car salesman of a father gleefully boasts as he clocks the mileage of one his used cars?
Well such an occurrence isn’t only the preserve of Hollywood films – clocking vehicles remains the easiest way to increase the perceived value of a car. Only problem is, you’ll be left short changed, and riding a potential death trap that should have written off many moons ago, which it probably was.
Write-Offs, Stolen Cars and Clones
There are obvious reasons why you’d prefer it if the car that’ll be parked in your drive wasn’t stolen or written off. To avoid falling into this trap, ensure that you are able to access a full car history of the vehicle you wish to purchase. You can also check MOT details including previous mileage ratings online, including here on this government page the DVLA
It’s important to check these details out, because if it turns out that you have purchased a stolen or cloned vehicle, you may still be liable for any outstanding payments associated with the car, including fines for speeding and parking that have nothing to do with you. If the car is stolen, it’s likely that it has been involved in criminal offences, and police will be come knocking on your door expecting answers to questions that you probably won’t know the answer to. Not fun.
“Cut and Shuts” & “Wear and Tear”
No, this isn’t me asking you out in Cockney rhyming slang, and second hand cars won’t be expected to be pristine, but you don’t want to be sitting in a car that could literally fall apart at any minute. Cut and shut cars are dodgy makeshift motors comprised of more than one car. Alongside checking for the vehicles history, it’s also worth taking along an expert to the viewing who’ll be able to spot the signs of car modifications or concealed wear and tear.