With the internet at our fingertips, making online purchases is as easy as one or two clicks of the mouse. And increasingly, consumers are choosing to buy cars from online ads. However, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that there is a great deal of risk in doing so.
In its most recent annual report, the Internet Crime Center says auto fraud accounts for 12 percent of all online purchase scams, totaling to more than $60 million dollars in losses to consumers.
Most often, the scam works like this; buyers purchase vehicles advertised at a low price by individuals that don’t own them. The scammer generally does not meet the consumer and requires them to pay via wire transfer.
“It’s hard to pass up a good deal, especially on an investment like a car. Consumers need to be extremely cautious because the amount of money they could lose can be sizable,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Reports say that the average amount lost on one of these scams is nearly $4,000.”
The BBB offers the following tips for online car shopping:
The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service. Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.