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The key to receiving payment for your used car safely is to agree a safe payment method before meeting up and not to allow yourself to be pressured into changing plans.
Con-artists can be very persuasive and will offer all sorts of reasons why you should accept a form of payment that suits them, not you. Accepting payment that you're unsure about is never worth it. If it seems odd, it probably is â€“ and you risk losing out if you hand over your car in exchange for a fake banker's draft or a personal cheque that's going to bounce
Broadly speaking, it's best to stick to the three payment methods outlined below here. The vast majority of used car transactions are perfectly safe as there are far more genuine buyers than con-artists. However, when it does go wrong it can be very distressing.
When it comes to accepting payment for a used car, cash is king. When accepting cash it's a good idea to bring someone along with you to ensure your safety. And arrange to meet the buyer a well-lit area, with plenty of CCTV cameras around.
Many buyers will prefer not to carry around hundreds or thousands of pounds in banknotes and if this is the case then possibly a banker's draft or escrow service may be a better idea. Alternatively, it's not mentioned here but, if you're somewhere where there's internet access you could ask your buyer to transfer you the money directly while you watch. If you have telephone banking then you may be able to check whether it has shown up right away. Obviously, cash avoids most of these problems and is therefore preferable if you can get a buyer to agree to it.
As a safe payment service for selling your car, the banker's draft is the second best option. Unlike a personal cheque which can be written without the buyer having any of the funds necessary to pay it, a banker's draft is a guarantee from the bank of your buyer that the cash exists in their account and will be paid out to you on demand.
However, this can only apply when you are sure that the banker's draft is genuine and there have been cases of forged banker's drafts being used to pay for second hand cars. The best way to be sure you're getting a genuine banker's draft is to arrange to go with your buyer to their bank and watch them obtain it. This should not be too difficult to agree as most buyer's will need to do this anyway â€“ it's very usual to haggle over the price of a used car and so if they're going to pay by banker's draft they'll have to obtain one after you have agreed the sale anyway.
If this does become a problem, you can always agree to knock enough off the price of the car to pay for the cost of the banker's draft and a little extra. That way you can be confident you're getting a genuine payment and your buyer, if he or she is genuine, should be happy to agree.
Banks have been considering retiring this form of payment for a number of years and will likely do so fairly soon. This will mean that one of the safest ways of paying for a used car will disappear (and in the meantime, fewer and fewer people are familiar with this method of payment). As such, if you're going to suggest it, it is recommended that you offer it among a few others.
Legitimate escrow services, where they're to be found, are a very safe way of making and taking payments for used cars. However, there have been scams involving fake escrow services where a buyer has sent their money to someone who makes off with it and they never get the car that was advertised. Whilst this is not a risk for you as a seller it may mean that many buyers will be wary about using escrow services at all. Therefore, like the banker's draft, it's probably a good idea to offer it as one option among a few and to reassure the buyer that they can contact the company's customer service team in order to make sure that they are a genuine business.
The most well-known escrow service for used car transfers is escrow.com although this is far more commonly used for online car sales than in person. It's far more likely that cash or a banker's draft would be used for a car transaction that occurs in person, but if your buyer chooses to use an escrow service, you shouldn't worry about accepting it. It's a very safe method of payment, with no risks at all for the seller.
One particular downside to escrow services is that there are charges that you simply don't get when using a direct bank transfer or cash. And, as said before, cash really is the ideal method of payment from a seller's perspective.
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