7 Essential Tips for Dealing With Junk Car Scams in California

Published: October 10, 2023

There are several junk car scams that you should be aware of before you attempt to unload your junker. Scammers are out there looking to scam you out of your jalopy and maybe even some of your hard-earned cash. Selling a less-than-desirable car can prove to be difficult and time-consuming. However, if you take the proper precautions and use your street smarts, it can be done safely. In this article, we’ll look over the key essential aspects you need to know when looking to junk a car.

Common Junk Car Buyers Scams

As P.T. Barnum famously said, there’s a sucker born every minute. When selling your junk car, the key is to not be one of them. While most buyers of a used car aren’t looking to hustle you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter one who is. The key to selling a junk car without being scammed is to arm yourself with the knowledge of the techniques scammers use. Once you know what their methods are, their red flags will be obvious.

1. The Reseller Scam

This hustle usually happens when you’ve listed your junk car for sale on one of the free used car selling platforms. You’ll be contacted by someone who claims to be a professional used or junk car seller, and they have a guaranteed buyer interested in your vehicle. The catch is that you’ll first have to pay their finders fee. Once you’ve paid them, you'll be ghosted and out of the money you sent.

2. The Overpayment Scam

If a buyer writes you a check for far more than the agreed selling price, this is definitely a scam. The seemingly honest buyer will apologize for the mistake and ask for the overpayment amount in cash. Obviously, you won’t sign over the vehicle’s title until the buyer’s check has cleared your bank, but guess what? It’s either a fake check, or they’ve already canceled the payment. You still have your car, but now you’re out of the overpayment money.

3. The PayPal Hack

This one only works with sellers who don’t have a PayPal account and don’t understand how it works. The fraudster will insist on paying via this method, and once you’ve set up a new account, they’ll tell you they’ve made the payment and to check your email for the payment notification from PayPal. Unfortunately, all they’ve done is email you a fake notification that appears to have come from PayPal.

4. The Overseas Buyer Scam

If you’re selling your junk car on an online platform, you’re opening up yourself to all kinds of scammers. This hustle occurs when an overseas buyer contacts you, saying that your vehicle is the exact make and model they need. They’ve already set up an international courier to have it shipped, and they’ll add the additional shipping fees to their payment that you can send to their shipper.

Unfortunately, their payment is a stolen credit card, so any money you send to their shipper is on your dime. This hustle is similar to the overpayment scam with the added allure of an overseas sale.

Ways To Protect Yourself from Scammers when Selling a Junk Car

The safest and most profitable way to sell your junk car in California is to sell it to a junk car buyer in Santa Clarita. The process is straightforward and worry-free.

However, if you still want to do it on your own, there are still some things to consider. Unfortunately, when trying to sell anything, there are those unscrupulous types who will try to take advantage of you. Savvy criminals know all the tricks, but there are ways to protect yourself from being a victim. Here are some essential tips to avoid being scammed when selling a junk car:

● Trust Your Gut

● Don’t sign over the title until the buyer’s payment has cleared the bank

● If possible, get paid in cash

● Don’t fall for the overpayment scam

● Have a friend with you when you meet potential buyers

● If possible, drive your junk car to a public place to meet with buyers

● Never give too much personal information

Always remember that you’re the seller, and you set the terms and the rules. Don’t be bullied by a buyer who wants to change the terms of the deal. They may not be a professional scammer, but they’re definitely trying to scam you out of money.

The Safest Way To Sell a Junk Car: The Bottom Line

Selling a junk car could open sellers to a world of savvy criminals who are looking to earn some easy money. Junk car buying scams have been hurting sellers for years, causing some sellers much trepidation when looking for an honest buyer. There is, however, an easy and safe way to unload your jalopy.

Sell yours to a specialized junk car dealer. There are no games to be played when selling to them. They’ll offer you more than what your local scrap yard will pay, and most will even come directly to you, and haul it away for free while leaving you with cash in hand. It’s the stress-free way to sell a junk car. Give them a call today and leave the scammers in the dust.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief Carmelo Pickel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Keep Driving, with almost 20 years of experience working in the industry. Before founding Keep Driving, Carmelo held leadership roles for over a decade on top automotive dealership corporations across North America, handling various leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, and Incentives.
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