View Full Version : Tips on selling a car, avoiding scams.

04-04-2011, 12:02 PM
I've finally decided to give up my old Mustang and trying to sell it privately. I'm planning to use photo ads, ebay and/or Criagslist. I'm a little concerned about scammers and money launderers and not sure how to handle the actual cash transaction.

I'm getting some conflicting info from sites. For example, Ebay seems to recommend money orders/cashiers checks whereas Craigslist says to avoid those. Which is it? Should I just require a personal check and wait for it to clear before turning over the keys and title? Should I accept cash? I don't want to have to buy a counterfeit pen just in case someone wants to pay that way, but I know there's plenty of people out there that prefer cash transactions that I'm not opposed to as long as they hand me real money.

Any advice from people experienced with this kind of transaction would be appreciated.


04-04-2011, 12:11 PM
Well you also have to consider what you would do if you were the buyer and worried about being scammed also. There's no way I would fork over a personal check for a car and then wait a week for the keys.

The last time I bought a used car in a private deal many years ago, we completed the transaction by going to my credit union together, where they cut the check to her for my loan, then she cashed it on site. Or maybe they cut me the check, I signed it over and then she cashed it right there. That actually seems more like it. LOL!

04-04-2011, 12:27 PM
I'm not sure how much your car is worth...but:

1. If selling it on Craig's List...you can accept cash (if value is not too high)...I would say $3000-$5000 or less. If it's worth more (or any value)...since this will probably be a local sale...meet the buyer at their bank to do the transaction (cash or cashier's check).

2. If selling on e-Bay...the person buying it may or may not be local:

- If they are local, you can use the same two suggestions as I mentioned for a Craig's List sale.

- If the buyer is driving to your area to pick it up...again you might be able to meet at a local bank (if they buyer has an account with a a bank in your area).

- If the buyer does not have an account with a bank in your area...then you could accept a cashier's check. But here's the "safety net" with a cashier's check. Before you complete the transaction...call the bank FIRST...that issued the cashier's check. And verify with the bank that the check is valid (customer's name that the check was issued to, the amount, the check number, etc.).

I've purchased and sold about 10-15 vehicles on e-Bay and Craig's List over the last 10-12 years...and "knock on wood"...no problems. Other than the possible non-paying e-Bay person (which can happen with anything sold on e-Bay)...then you simply have to relist the item...or offer it to the 2nd high bidder.

Hope this helps,

- Nick

04-04-2011, 12:27 PM
I agree with the above posted solution, but I will add that the counterfeit pens only cost a few dollars and come in very handy if you do any Craigslist transactions. You can fan out all of your bills and know in an instant if you have funny money or the real thing.

04-04-2011, 12:33 PM
I agree with the above posted solution, but I will add that the counterfeit pens only cost a few dollars and come in very handy if you do any Craigslist transactions. You can fan out all of your bills and know in an instant if you have funny money or the real thing.

Nice addition! :)

During some of the auto purchases I've made via e-Bay...the seller (who may have been a "Professional Used Car Person") did "whip-out" one of those counterfeit pens/markers when I handed them a bunch of cash (to check for counterfeit cash).

- Nick

04-05-2011, 10:47 AM
Thanks for the tips! I like the idea of going to the buyer's bank. Hopefully it will be someone local to handle it that way. Also, confirming the check with the bank is good too. As I understand it, cashiers checks, or bank-certified checks, directly from the bank have the funds removed from the account holder's account when the check is drafted, so I'm guessing that means the check should be fine as long as the bank verifies it's real.

I'm planning to get around $15,000 out of the car, so it's no small sum. I want to make sure I'm protected.

Thanks for all your help!!

04-05-2011, 11:11 AM
Going to the bank is your only option, and a cashiers check is your only payment option to consider for that amount. You need to consider that anyone can go into Office Depot and buy blank check stock and print you as many checks as they want. With the cashiers check it is drawn immediately from the account owners funds and is guaranteed. Also, being at the bank also allows you to transfer the title easily as there is a notary in every bank. You can complete the whole transaction under one roof.

Another possible option is to try to sell the car to Carmax if you have one close by. You don't need to buy anything to sell something there. This would be the easiest and safest way available.

Good luck with you sale, hope it all works out and you get your ask. :)

04-06-2011, 12:33 PM
Thanks again for the info! I can't imagine Carmax would be interested in buying a classic restored car, but I did hear about a place in my state that specializes in buying classic Mustangs. I may give them a shot too.