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Better Business Bureau warns drivers to steer clear from Craigslist car scams

Today the Better Business Bureau is warning people of a scam going on among those who are looking to buy and sell cars via Craigslist.

BBB representative Robb Hicken said this past week a Pocatello woman was on the popular exchange website looking to purchase a new car, and was able to notice scam before she fell victim.

“All Pocatello resident Sunny Xavier wanted was to find a car and what she found was a great price, leather seats, sunroof, low mileage, and automatic transmission,” Hicken wrote in a statement.

But then later Xavier noticed the advertisement for the car did not have a complete phone number and the owner claimed to have been a sergeant stationed in Kuwait and needed the money transferred to him through an online money exchange site such as PayPal.

That’s when Sunny walked away.

The Snake River region’s BBB President and CEO Dale Dixon said the company receives numerous complaints about similar stories from people who use Craigslist to try and buy or sell big ticket items.

“If you make contact and the person is outside of the eastern Idaho area or outside your area, then it’s a scam,” Dixon warned. “If they claim to be a missionary, serving overseas, or trying to sell something quickly, then it’s definitely a scam.”

Dixon added, Craigslist should be used as an online marketplace to advertise the goods, but a hand-to-hand exchange must be done in person.

Both Hicken and Dixon said there are some more red flags for people to watch out for:

1. Set a price limit.

“Before you start your search, decide the maximum amount you can spend or the maximum monthly payment if financing the car through a loan.”

2. Determine where to buy the used car.

“There are three common venues: private parties, dealerships, and independent lots. Private parties tend to have more reasonable prices. Buying a used car from a dealership provides carefully inspected vehicles and strong warranties.”

3. Choose a car that fits specific needs.

“Think about the equipment the car offers, the safety features, and any family needs.”

4. Do the research

Hicken suggests looking at as a good online resource to check the average prices of the car you’re interested in purchasing. These prices should give you a good idea of what to compare it to.

5. Test drive the vehicle.

Legitimate Craigslist ads will allow you to come out and test drive the vehicle.

6. Get a history report and inspection.

Hicken adds that it is important to look up the VIN number to gain the history report of the car you’re interested in purchasing. Once again, another test of legitimacy if the owner will provide that number for you.

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