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Protecting Yourself From Online Fraud

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Scams and fraud have been around forever, and they aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. While the expanding reach of the internet has given their perpetrators a new means of trawling for victims, protecting yourself requires only a modicum of vigilance.

Awareness is Key
"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." It's an age-old adage that's as true today as it's ever been, but it's not the only weapon you need to avoid being cheated. Today's schemes and scams come in all sorts of disguises. Internet fraud often begins with emails designed to appear as if they've been sent by trusted companies like Kelley Blue Book. Sometimes the goal is to get the recipient to send money directly. Other times the aim is to extract information---social security, bank or credit card numbers, for instance---that can be used to access that money. Just being aware that internet scams exist---in a variety of shapes and sizes---is the first and most important step in keeping out of trouble.

Note: Kelley Blue Book does not buy vehicles, sell vehicles, act as an escrow or in any way participate in new- or used-vehicle transactions.

Protect Yourself, Protect Others
If you're suspicious of an email that appears as if it may have come from Kelley Blue Book, please forward a copy of the email to kelley@kbb.com. If you think you might have fallen victim to an online scam, immediately report your situation to the appropriate authorities using the resource links at the bottom of this page.

Buying and Selling Vehicles Safely
While a vast majority of online vehicle transactions are legitimate, consumers should be very cautious when attempting to purchase or even sell a vehicle in a sight-unseen, long-distance internet transaction.

Tips for Online Buyers

  • Execute the transaction using a reputable escrow service that you've researched on your own
  • Be wary of any vehicle priced well below its Blue Book value
  • Be tightfisted with personal and financial information, providing only that which is required for the transaction
  • Be highly suspicious of any transaction that involves a vehicle or seller located in a foreign country
  • Get an AutoCheck® vehicle history report, which can give you insight into the vehicle's past
  • Obtain and verify the seller's name, address and phone number
  • Have an independent professional mechanic evaluate the vehicle

Tips for Online Sellers

  • Execute the transaction using a reputable escrow service that you've researched on your own
  • Be especially suspicious of overseas transactions
  • Be aware of a common scam in which phony buyers send bogus cashier's checks made out for more than the negotiated purchase price and request a cash refund from the seller (the bank might initially accept the deposit, but has 30 days to reject the bogus document)
  • Be tightfisted with personal and financial information, providing only that which is required for the transaction
  • Obtain and verify the buyer's name, address and phone number

Internet Crime Resources
The following organizations offer information on fraud, tips on fraud avoidance and procedures for reporting fraud or suspected fraud. Your state and local authorities can also be valuable resources.

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Better Business Bureau (BBB)