How to Avoid Second Hand Car Scams

If you’re in the market for a second-hand car, chances are, you’re combing Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, or perhaps the Used Car section on These are only some of the platforms that are commonly used, with varying degrees of safety. 

However, if you are conducting your search on the ground and not online, there are still some precautions that you have to take in order to avoid a scam. As such, we’ve assembled a survival guide for you, so you can avoid getting scammed in the second-hand market whether online or offline. 

Vehicle Deed of Sale Philippines

Empty promises and deception are both at the heart of a well-engineered and orchestrated scam. A scam often succeeds when the victim cannot identify red flags while a deal is ongoing, and when money is exchanged for nothing or something that misses the mark and hassles the buyer. 

Scammers will focus on money, while real sellers will focus on selling. While that statement seems a little obvious on the surface, you will find that it is one of the first things that you need to pick out from your initial interactions. Also, there are other scams that involve stolen items, cars included, so there are a few things that you can also keep a lookout for to avoid such hassle from happening. 

Online Buying

No scammer will ever pose as one, but there are some telltale signs that you can pick out with a few background checks. 

First is to look at the seller’s profile whether it’s on Facebook Marketplace or on any other sales platform. First of all, you want to see that the seller’s profile hasn’t been made in the last few days or weeks. For social media platforms, fake profiles are not uncommon so do check when the user joined the platform if you’re buying something on Facebook, for example. If you are shopping on a sales platform, however, you may want to check how prim and proper the seller’s profile is set up. There are a few things that you should note here like whether the seller is an agent for a network of used car dealers, or if he has a lot of experience with used cars, or if he is selling his own personal unit. 

Carousell Online Car buying
  • Legitimate contact information 
  • A general location or address 
  • Photos of the car 
  • More details about the car 
  • (Bonus) Reason for Sale or “RFS” 

However, if one or two items are missing or lacking, don’t fret because you may ask for more information from the seller. 

Also ask the seller for the vehicle’s plate number and check with the LTO’s database through its various online tools like  “May Huli Ba?” or the plate number verification system. Check for any outstanding violations that the car may have, a history of accidents, or whether or not the registration was done right and all the details match up. Worse of all, the last thing that you want is a vehicle to be sold to you with another car’s plates and papers. 

Vehicle OR/CR Philippines

Remember to always ask the seller for these documents: 

  • Original OR/CR 
  • Deed of Sale 
  • Photocopies of the original owner’s ID plus signatures 
  • Optional: Letter of Authorization 
Car Buying in the Philippines

If the seller is legitimate, or if their scammer was good enough to reel you in, it’s important to still keep your guard up. Your next step will be to message the seller and express interest in what they have, so write a quick message saying you’re interested. Following that, and if you’re really interested and ready to buy, you might want to ask for more details about the car in case it wasn’t mentioned in the seller’s post. Either that or you can clarify with the seller about things that he might not have listed or a few details withheld. If all of your questions are realistically answered, then that’s a good sign that the seller is looking to make a deal. Otherwise, if the seller dodges your requests with poor excuses, then you might be walking into a scam. 

Other than the questions about the physical state of the car,  before you set any form of meeting up, you should check if the owner has the original official receipt and certificate of registration (OR/CR) with him. An added bonus would be a deed of sale prepared by the seller along with the photocopied and thrice-signed IDs of the original owner. 

The last thing that you want is a set of documents that are encumbered, so make sure that the documents that you need to transfer the car’s ownership is complete and ready for transfer. 

If the seller cannot produce or confirm the existence of these documents, then you should raise an eyebrow stop trying to let the deal push through. 

Scams can take many forms, and there are three points where a “scam” can occur, before, during, and after you take the car—if there is any car to take to begin with. 

The kinds of scams that can happen before the transaction and meetup can revolve around getting payment in prior to meeting with the seller. Make sure that you exchange money in person, and never online if you don’t have the assurance that you will be getting a car in return. Some scammers will ask you to put in an online downpayment or reservation fee of sorts. In some cases, they will ask you to send them money and offer to deliver the car, only to disappear without a trace. Don’t fall for these scams. No money should be exchanged if you haven’t seen the car yet. 

Another kind of scam can happen during the meetup. Like it or not, there are fraudulent papers out there and worse of all, stolen cars can pop up online from time to time. Make sure you’ve done your homework and checked if the vehicle’s registration is on alert. Check the papers intently. Match the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with the car, match the plate number, MV registration number, and also the engine if possible. Make sure that the body type, the number of doors, and even the color of the car match. Also, be sure to review what an OR/CR is supposed to look like, and as much as possible, don’t push through with the deal if the car’s original papers are photocopied or severely damaged. Stolen cars will rarely come with papers. If the seller says “They’ll come up with the papers on a later date,” then that’s another flag. 

AutoDeal Used Cars

Taking all this into consideration, there are a ton of things that you need to know before you buy a second-hand car, and that’s really not ideal. Going through an official online sales platform, a trusted used car dealer, or even going certified pre-owned are the ways to go if you want to proactively and intentionally avoid getting scammed. 

As such, took all these concerns seriously and developed a platform, payment system, and a roster of used car dealers to provide you ample choice the next time you go shopping, as well as a platform that gets you in touch with the right people. 

Buying a second-hand car can be a little tricky without the right tools, know-how, and the right platform. If you’re not sure about doing the grunt work on your own, you can go with a reputable brand, dealer, or platform to handle that for you, provided that the car that you want is listed. 

If there is a particular unit that you’re on the hunt for, but it’s not on your safe platform of choice, make sure to exercise caution and remember to be careful, otherwise, we’re here to help. 

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