Avoiding eBay Scams When Selling a Car

Buying and selling cars online can be intimidating. This article is going to act as your virtual power-suit so that you can walk (er, type) your way into successful eBay transactions like a warrior. We’ll also cover some decent alternatives to eBay so that you can find other sure-fire ways to confidently sell your vehicle online.

First, let’s identify some of the most common tactics that scammers use to trick you.

Ebay Scams

Making you Leave eBay’s Private Messenger:

Many scammers will try to get you to leave eBay’s private messaging system. They do this to prevent eBay from tracking their communication with you. If a buyer refuses to use eBay’s secure messaging program and only wants to communicate through other avenues, you might have an eBay scam on your hands.

Tip: Keep all conversations on eBay’s secure system to protect yourself and maintain a record that the company can use if needed.

Western Union and Money Orders as a Method of Payment:

Western Union is often used for money transfers by eBay scammers. Why? Because Western Union provides an untraceable method of payment which allows people to commit fraud. When someone mentions that banking method, be extra cautious. Money orders are often counterfeited these days and a teller might not be able to distinguish the fraud. Unfortunately, when the fake money order makes it past a teller, the counterfeit can still be taken from your account in the future.

Robotic “Voice”:

Be cautious if you’re receiving generic messages that contain phrases like “Dear Sir/Madam” and “To Whom it May Concern”. Scammers won’t take the time to tailor their messages to you and your specific vehicle (see below), and they operate as quickly as possible in order to make the most money. eBay scam artists often copy and paste generic messages to save time. So, if it seems like you’re talking to a robot, it’s a red flag (or it’s my mother-in-law). In either case: run.

False and Incorrect Information:

If a buyer is quoting facts that are different from the ones on your listing, they either forgot to drink their coffee or they’re rushing through posts with “copy & paste”. This isn’t a huge deterrent, but be sure to clarify and tread lightly moving forward. If someone’s interested in your car and feels it’s the perfect fit, they’ll take the time to make sure they’re discussing the right one.

On this note, it’s also important to make sure that the information the buyer has on their payment profile matches the information they share. Be wary if someone asks you to ship a car to an address that is not the “confirmed address” on their PayPal profile. Scammers are able to hack into other people’s PayPal profiles, ship items to an independent address and leave you with a reversed payment. This occurs when the true account holder realizes the fraudulent charges and reverses the transaction.

Ebay Scams

Offers that are Too Good to be True:

In a perfect world, you’d sell everything at the highest price. But if you saw pictures of a piece of crumpled paper next to a $1,000 price tag, you’d be skeptical, right? If the offer someone sends you seems incredibly mismatched and too good to be true, then it probably is.

We know you love your car, but the value shouldn’t be much higher than the Kelly Blue Book estimate (even if you’ve performed significant aftermarket improvements). 

Delivery Confirmation via PayPal Payments:

Scammers also like to prey on people who don’t use PayPal’s “Delivery Confirmation”. Delivery Confirmation promises the seller that the shipping address is an authorized location. This location can only be approved by the true cardholder. It also tells the delivery company to record receipt of the vehicle.

A scammer will hack someone’s PayPal account and use an alternative, unconfirmed address. This means that the delivery company won’t record receipt of your shipment. With this, the scam artist is able to falsely claim that the car never arrived, since there’s no actual proof.

Now the scammer can open a dispute with PayPal due to “non-delivery”. This process will remove the funds from your account and put them back into the scam artist’s hands. By using this trick, they’re able to drive away with your car for FREE.

Tip: Be open about that fact that you’re going to use Delivery Confirmation. Use the term in your listing and it’ll deter many scammers from even attempting to sway you.

Delayed Payment:

DO NOT ship your car without first verifying that payment has been processed from your buyer. eBay scammers use bad checks and payment fraud as a way to get you to mail the item without providing legitimate payment. Unless you’ve been properly paid, it’s simply not worth the risk.

Alternative Options:


If your head is spinning, don’t worry. Selling a vehicle online can feel completely overwhelming, especially for first-timers. If you don’t want to deal with a low-ball offer, we are a great alternative. TRED sells cars for an average of 30% MORE than dealership trade-in and 12% MORE than Craigslist. We also take care of the titling, lease payoff (if you have one), filter out the flakes and use a sophisticated marketing platform. TRED also offers a 150-point inspection and CARFAX report. 

Sell Your Car for Thousands More!GET AN ESTIMATE!

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