[Scam Buyer Alert] Protecting Yourself from Potential Fraud Car Buyers in the Philippines

Updated Oct 19, 2020

Important tips to verify the identity of your potential car buyer!

Alongside with the incredible progression of technology, the society has also made adjustments in its own to adapt to world modernization. Sadly, not all adjustments and adaptations can be considered as good. Sometimes, when the pressure of adulting and living the real life gets in people’s heads and if it so happened that they are the type who’s not able to let go of things that they want but cannot have, they tend to resort to extraordinary measures.

These extraordinary measures is a part of their unreasonable determination, resulting to horribly fooling people just to get what they want – even if it involves money, and resources, regardless of how important this deal is to the victims.

Scam alert!

We should always be aware of scammers everywhere

One of the most common situations where people are being scammed brutally is through buy and sell. If I hear buy and sell, the first thing that comes to my mind is cars. You buy, then later on you want to upgrade and you sell it before buying another vehicle. Sometimes, some people are very trusting to other people regardless if they know them or not. This hospitality can sometimes cause some serious trouble especially when it involves a large amount of money. Scams have evolved drastically through the years too so we have to be aware and alert at all times to everyone we’re making transactions with.

This is where carefully knowing your car’s potential buyer comes in. We need to make sure that we are transacting with an honest to goodness person, and more so, we also have to take preventive measures ourselves throughout the transaction to protect us from possible fraud or scam. It is highly important to know your car buyer well for you to have peace of mind doing transactions with him or her, besides the fact that you will be handing them over your beloved car. As they say, we can never be too careful.

Now, the main question is: How do we verify the identity and sincerity of your potential car buyer? Or in other words, how can we tell if they are scam car buyers? Let Philkotse.com help you with the following 7 need-to-know tips.

1. Buying without seeing

This may first lift your spirits up as a seller because it could sound that the buyer trusts you so much that he or she doesn’t necessarily need to see the car before paying for it. This could also be less hassle for you as they will send someone over to just pick up the vehicle and give you the check.

You should never trust this kind of convenience. Car buying is never is easy – if someone is really interested in buying your car, they would arrange a meet up for thorough inspections and Q & A’s with the owner of the car, they will introduce themselves face-to-face and negotiate in person. Moreover, if they’re really ready to buy a car, they won’t give out a check, but rather cold cash.

a person buying cars online

You think they trust you by buying without meetup? Better think again

2. Paying through checks

This is how most of the scams or fraud come to life – through payment options. Remember, if the buyer is so sure to buy your vehicle, it means that he or she should be ready with the money, in cash, to pay for it upfront. As the car owner or seller, you should also be strict when it comes to accepting payments.

In Tagalog, you should be smart enough to do ‘kaliwaan’, meaning they give you the money, you give them the keys. This way, they would know that you mean serious business with them rather than giving them the impression that you’ll give in to whatever payment option they want just because you need some money.

A man issuing a check

Checks can be very inviting, but you'll never know if they'll bounce or not

>>> More helpful tips for car sellers:

3. Installments

Here’s where our soft spot is – sometimes we can too flexible and trusty. Some buyers really knows how to deal with purchasing cars and they know how and where to hit the soft spot of sellers to gain their full trust in such a short time. Once they do, they will ask for possible installment or monthly payments rather than paying for it in full. In this case, chances are, they might be able to pay for it for a good few months while they’re already using your car, and afterwards just disappear. Such a loss for the seller.

a photo showing installment plans

Don't let promises fool you. Your potential buyer might be a good payer in the beginning then disappears in the end

4. Asking for too many personal information

If the buyer is asking for too much personal identification from you, such as social security number, driver’s license number, etc., please don’t give them away that easily. Providing these information can be used as identity theft which could in turn, be such a messy problem.

Even if they say they will need these information to transfer money to your bank account, still, don’t give it. Insist on personal payment for your own safety.

a photo of invasion of privacy

Don't ever give out private, sensitive personal information to anybody

5. Demanding to meet in a place you’re unfamiliar with

This is highly important as this can compromise your physical safety. If your buyer is willing to meet in person, ask to meet somewhere public, in case of worst case scenarios. Call me paranoid or what not, but your safety as a seller should be a priority. Never agree to meet someone you don’t really know that much in an area that you’re not familiar with. If that buyer doesn’t have a plan to really pay for your car, they could easily take it from you since you’re on their territory. Your disadvantage, your safety compromised. Be very careful with this.

A dark alley for a rendezvous

Dont agree to meet up in a too far away/isolated area that you don't know

6. Not willing to meet you in person

The best way for you to know a person, read their thoughts and identify their personalities is by meeting them in person. If the buyer isn’t willing to do so, or finding excuses to just have someone meet you other than him or her, it could potentially mean something fishy. Come to think of it, if they don’t have something to hide, and their true intent is to buy your car and take care of it, a face-to-face meeting shouldn’t be any problem.

a person hiding his/her identity

If your buyer isn't willing to meet you in person, there might be something fishy going on

7. Escrow services

This third party service is used to process the transaction in behalf of the buyer. They will collect, verify and hold the buyer’s payment until all documents related to selling the car are complete. Even though this sounds legitimate, as long as you’re not familiar with the escrow service they’re using, or the escrow service doesn’t have a good reputation, don’t agree.

These are just some important things to note when selling your car. Again, we can never be too careful for anything we’ve invested our money in. We don’t want to be left empty handed and with our car gone away.

A photo showing how escrow services work

Only agree if you know the escrow service that the buyer wants to use

In case you have unfortunately become a victim of car scams, here is a step-by-step guide to report your car scam case to the authorities.

Ivy Kristia Padura

Ivy Kristia Padura


Ivy is one of the first Philkotse's content writers. She finds joy in sharing her driving tips, particular for dealing with heavy traffic in Metro Manila, with other fellow drivers.

View more