By Alisdair Valente
Shoppers looking for a deal on a second-hand car online are being urged to be very cautious as marketplace scams are on the rise.
Division of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch has reported over 250 cases of Queenslanders being scammed when purchasing second-hand vehicles.
Acting Attorney-General, Mick de Brenni said Queensland marketplaces can sometimes hide the true identity of the seller and it may not always be the best option when it comes to making a significant purchase such as buying a car.
“One Queensland consumer lost $39,000 when they tried to buy a vehicle via a popular online marketplace, and despite the regular vehicle checks appearing normal, the car was never delivered, and the seller could not be contacted,” Mr de Brenni said.
RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie urges consumers to do their research and remain vigilant in noting suspicious behaviour.
“Don’t buy sight unseen and be wary if the seller wants to meet you in places such as shopping centre car parks, or they offer to bring the car to you, as this could mean they don’t want you to know where they live,” Ms Ritchie said.
Ms Ritchie believes that a suitable method of figuring out if the seller is genuine is if they can answer questions about the car off the top of their head, and not be vague in answering your questions.
Mr de Brenni is also providing some substantial steps to help keep consumers safe.
“Avoid buying a car from someone unwilling to meet you face-to-face; never buy a car you haven’t seen in person and don’t let someone put you under pressure by insisting on completing the transaction as quickly as possible,” Mr de Brenni said.
Consumers can visit the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ website to conduct a free check of a vehicles registration number or VIN to confirm its registration status, make, model and body type.
For more information about scams in general, including how you can report a fraud, visit the OFT website or Scamwatch.