The used car market is hot right now. Thanks to the global chip shortage, the prices for used cars have increased significantly this year, which has led many prospective car buyers to check out more places than their local dealerships. Facebook Marketplace is a popular site for car buyers and sellers, however, it’s also a hotbed for scammers looking to make a profit without actually selling a car.
With a billion Facebook Marketplace users, there are bound to be scammers
There are currently one billion users utilizing Facebook Marketplace to sell cars, cell phones, and every other product under the sun. And while many buyers can easily score a good deal at any given time, some deals are just too good to be true.
For example, you might see a 2010 Honda Accord listed for $3,000 on Facebook Marketplace with a legit-looking seller attached to it. But chances are, that’s a scam. This news outlet reported about an ongoing scam on Facebook Marketplace where the scammers posted multiple fake used car ads on the site with cheap prices in order to lure unsuspecting customers into sending them money via gift cards or at least giving up some personal information.
They even used a real dealership’s contact information in order to get the customer to engage with them. However, many people ended up reporting it to the actual dealership, which was then able to warn other people about the scam.
Car and Driver reports that this is not too uncommon and that Facebook has taken measures to filter out car sales scams. But with so many sellers joining the site, it’s hard to keep track of all of them.
What is Facebook doing as a security measure?
There are a couple of ways in which Facebook is doing what it can to protect its Marketplace users. ProPublica reports that the social media giant uses anti-fraud software to prevent any scams in the first place. However, it’s not the most accurate way to filter them out.
As a backup measure, Facebook also uses 400 Accenture employees to actively review listings and respond to user complaints. That might sound all well and good, however, the issue is that the 400 employees have to deal with around 600 complaints every day, which only gives them less than a minute to respond to each one. As you can imagine, there’s just not enough time or manpower to accurately and effectively filter out the bad apples. So some scammers remain.
Protecting yourself when shopping for a car on Facebook Marketplace
If you end up finding a good (and legit) deal on a car while perusing Facebook Marketplace, there are certain safety measures that you can take to ensure your buying safety. First, you should always take the time to understand what you’re buying and doing the research in order to make sure that you’re getting a legit deal.
Sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds can give you current market valuations of the car that you’re interested in, so you’ll be able to tell if the car is priced too low. Second, it’s important to keep your personal information safe. Using a proxy email address or an alternate phone number could be useful and it’s important to log all of your conversations as well in order to keep a paper trail.
When it’s time to meet up with the seller, make sure to do so in a safe place like a police station or in front of a bank, which has security cameras. Just because you found a good deal on a used car, it doesn’t mean that it will be a good deal when you actually want to purchase it. The scammers are out there, just remember to use your instincts when vetting the ads that you come across.