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Avoiding the Most Common Used Car Scams

Flood damage and title washing among the problems to avoid.

by on Jun.24, 2011

Know what to look for - and what to steer clear of - before shopping for a used car.

It’s tough enough having to pay the premium that good used cars command these days, but all too many motorists looking for a deal on a previously owned automobile are finding themselves victims of some surprisingly creative scams.

If anything, the situation may be getting worse, experts are warning, as buyers desperately seek better deals – while the crooks get more creative.  Some of the most common rip-offs now involve the use of online tools like eBay and Craigslist.  No, those sites haven’t gone over to the dark side.  They simply make it easy for smart scam artists to prey on used car shoppers, especially those less savvy about the ways of a wired world.

But there are plenty of traditional rip-offs that can trip up even the wise shopper.  The heavy rains that have struck the American heartland this year will almost certainly lead to a tsunami of flood-damaged cars that rip-off artists hope to sell by washing their titles.

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“Scam artists prey on consumers in search of a bargain, and these scams are no exception,” John Breyault, Director of the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the only person(s) getting a steal are the con artists themselves.”

Want to avoid getting burned by your next used car?  Here’s a guide to some of the most common scams and some tips on how to make sure you get what you’re paying for.