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How to avoid used car fraud

(NC) When you're buying a used car, you want to know that the seller of the vehicle is someone you can trust. Asking the right questions and seeking out the right information will not only help you learn more about the vehicle, but it can also help you avoid scams or used car fraud. Here are 10 tips to make sure you find a great car:

• Always question a deal that seems too good to be true.

• Don't do business with a seller who won't meet face-to-face. Take caution if they'll only talk with you by phone or email.

• Be wary of dealing with a private seller who has numerous cars listed for sale at the same time. They could be a curbsider – an unlicensed individual, dealer or retailer who buys up vehicles and instead of registering them under their own name, posts the same vehicles for sale with a mark-up. The curbsider might hide major issues in order to make a quick, profitable sale.

• Purchase a CarProof vehicle history report for a detailed Canadian and U.S. history of the vehicle along with registration details and lien information. This report will also contain registration and odometer details and will tell you if the vehicle is actively reported as stolen.

• Ask the seller for proof of identity and check that the seller's name and address matches up with the information on the actual vehicle registration form. Verify the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the car's details with the registration form, insurance slips and with the CarProof report. One way curbsiders commit used vehicle fraud is by falsifying these details.

• When you get the opportunity to check out the vehicle, give both the inside and the outside a thorough inspection to make sure it's consistent with the condition that the seller is advertising. Take a good look at the odometer, checking to ensure that all the numbers line up and there's no evidence of sabotage, like scratches and cracks in and around the area. Rolling back the odometer is a sneaky way to hide a vehicle's high mileage.

• Don't rush the test drive – it could take up to 30 minutes to accurately gauge how well the vehicle is running.

• Take the vehicle for a pre-purchase inspection to a place of your choosing. If the seller insists on using one specific facility, this could be a red flag. Many curbsiders team up with someone who will look the other way when doing inspections or they'll misrepresent the vehicle's current condition.

• Don't pay before you get the vehicle and be wary if the seller demands cash only. If the seller requests a third-party escrow service, investigate the service to make sure it's legitimate and secure, as many online escrow sites are fraudulent.

• Don't let yourself be rushed into a decision to buy the vehicle. Take your time to ask questions and make an informed decision.

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