RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - We have an On Your Side Alert, if you're looking to buy or sell a car. It may not be a easy as you thought. Remember, crooks are just waiting for you to slip-up, so they can collect. We found a local company with a mission to protect you from scammers.
William Jones did what many people do when they want to sell a car, he turned to the web. An ad for his sleek-looking black SUV eventually ended up on Craigslist. He called that a mistake. He says, "I sold many cars years ago and never had a problem but now with the internet and different things that are going on it is very unnerving." Jones says he was flooded with sketchy offers to buy his truck. One person offered to meet him near the D.C. area. It turned out to be a frightening situation.
Jones tells us, "I was sitting in the back lot waiting on the gentleman and this car pulls up with four people inside. I did take my wife because he asked me was I coming alone and that was an indicator I shouldn't have gone." Jones and his wife left and returned home fearing the worse. "If I would have come alone, they would have tried to take my vehicle. It's an expensive car," Jones says.
He was about to give up until he saw a story featured on NBC 12 about a local company called Carlotz. The company's goal is to give sellers and buyers a safe and efficient experience. For Jones it worked. He says, "It met exactly what I needed and what I wanted to do. 30 days later the car was gone."
Carlotz owner, Michael Bor, says its because of customers like Jones that he started his business. He has heard the horror stories of trying to sell online. "There was an elderly couple murdered in North Carolina. There was gentleman in New York who was killed. These things don't happen often but often enough that it makes people pause before they seek to put a several thousand dollar asset on to Craigslist," Bor says.
He reminds consumers that not every online ad is out to get you. In fact, the company uses sites like Craigslist to make sales. Bor says the key is understanding how to spot and identify a scam. It's the reason Carlotz created a section on its website called, Carlotz University. The hope is to educate consumers on how to buy and sell cars. Safety is a top priority. Bor says, "If you follow these 10 steps your chance of getting scammed are lower, they are not eliminated."
The company provides tips to help consumers like Jones. Tips like limiting the private information in online ads -- too much information gives crooks too much access. Meet the buyer in a place where you are comfortable, preferably, a public well lit area. Once you agree on a price, create a bill of sale.
Don't think the professionals are safe from crooks, Carlotz has an email folder dedicated to scams. He says, "These are basically scam robots for the most part and if they get .001 percent to actually fall for the scam, they have done their job."
If you're not comfortable doing it on your own, customers like Jones say Carlotz may work for you. He says, "That is not my forte, my forte is buying and letting somebody else sell them." Bor says, "We are business, we have got four walls, we've got security cameras, we keep the cars safe we make sure the payments are done right.
Carlotz says as it learns about potential scams it will update its website to warn consumers.
To learn about Carlotz and other safety tips: link