Over the years, Facebook Marketplace has evolved into a popular platform for buying and selling various second-hand goods, including cars. If you are planning to buy a used car, you’ll likely find plenty of listings on Facebook Marketplace. However, before buying anything online, especially something as expensive as a car, it is imperative to make sure that the platform is actually safe. Well, while many deals on Facebook Marketplace are genuine and you might actually find quite a good deal, the platform has scammers too. As long as you are vigilant and careful, buying a car from Facebook Marketplace should be fine.
Is it safe to buy a car from Facebook marketplace?
Backed by the social media giant Facebook, this is a peer-to-peer platform with millions of users. Unlike Craigslist, Facebook allows you to view the profile of the sellers and chat with them directly using messenger.
So, is buying a car from Facebook Marketplace safe? Well, not necessarily, considering that Facebook doesn’t cover vehicles under their purchase protection program. Once you make a purchase, it will be nearly impossible to file a claim and get a refund. With so many people selling on Facebook Marketplace, it is only normal that there would always be some scammers.
However, this shouldn’t deprive you of the platform’s opportunities. Skipping this platform entirely can cause you to potentially miss out on awesome deals, which would, of course, be a bad idea. While it’s true that you risk losing your money to a scammer, you can avoid this if you are careful. Just watch out for red flags and make sure that the deal is legitimate, before you go ahead with the purchase.
Why are cars so cheap on Facebook marketplace?
In case you take a look at the car listings on Facebook Marketplace, you might notice that many of the listings have absurdly low prices. Now, while it’s nice to get a good deal, an unusually cheap price might seem suspicious. Some of the potential reasons behind such pricing are:
It’s the monthly repayment
When car dealerships list vehicles on Facebook Marketplace, they often list the monthly installments under price and put the total cost in the product description. Especially in case you see a car priced around USD 200 to USD 300, the amount likely indicates the monthly repayment amount.
The low price is there to bypass filters
While Facebook Marketplace allows you to filter listings by price, many sellers bypass this mechanism by deliberately setting the prices too low. In most cases, such sellers list the cars for just 1 dollar so that they’d always make it into the filter results. Scan the description to know the actual price. To avoid having your filtered results flooded with such listings, you may simply set the minimum price to USD 100.
The sellers are trying to trick the Fair Price algorithm
Besides getting their listings into filtered results, many sellers also set very low prices and place the actual price in the description to dodge Facebook’s Fair price algorithm. This algorithm compares the prices of similar products, finds the average price, and sets a price limit accordingly. This restricts sellers from setting a higher price for a car, even if it should actually cost above average. To get around this issue, the sellers simply set a very low price on the price tag and put up the real price in the description area.
It’s an unusable car
Unlike the previous examples, if the actual price set by the seller is too low, the chances are high that the car is actually junk. In many cases, such cars have already run for more than 200K miles and are at the end of their lifespan. Be wary of any cars listed at a price around or lower than USD 500, as the seller likely just wants to get rid of the car.
It’s a scam
Trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be real, it’s probably a scam. Many scammers even set up fake dealership pages on Facebook to look legitimate. For instance, if you find a VW Convertible in great condition listed for USD 800, the seller is most likely running a scam and you won’t receive any car after you make the payment.
How do you avoid getting scammed when buying a car from Facebook marketplace?
While scammers do try to trick buyers on Facebook Marketplace, it’s still a safer platform compared to some of the other alternatives like Craigslist. This is because Facebook allows you to check various information, particularly the seller’s profile. If you are careful and pay attention to certain factors, you might be able to buy your car from Facebook Marketplace without falling for a scam. Here are the key tips on how to avoid getting scammed:
1. Ask to meet in person
A genuine seller would be proactive to meet you in person. Especially when purchasing a car that’s going to cost you a lump sum amount of money, there’s nothing wrong with it. If the seller refuses or gives any reasons for not being able to meet in person, skip the deal and look for another listing. This especially applies when the seller is local and traveling for the meet-up wouldn’t really be a big issue.
2. Avoid sellers who ask for gift cards
A common trait among Facebook Marketplace scammers is that they might ask you to pay in gift cards. Now, this seems a little odd considering nobody usually accepts payments in gift cards, right? Well, it’s an ideal mode of payment for scammers, as there’s no way for you to retrieve the money later if you pay them in gift cards.
3. Avoid scammers with sob stories
Scammers are well aware that people might find oddly low prices to be suspicious. They come up with creative sad stories, such as being in desperate need of money or someone passing away. This not only helps them justify the low price, but also elicits the sympathy of the buyers. If a seller comes up with such narratives, politely decline the offer and move on.
Affordable marketplace for cars
If you are looking for an affordable marketplace for cars, Facebook Marketplace is definitely a good option. With so many dealerships and individual sellers selling vehicles on Facebook Marketplace, you will likely find a car within a reasonable budget. Look for deals within your preferred price range and compare them.
Buying a car from Facebook Marketplace isn’t a bad idea, as long as you know what to avoid and when to walk away from a deal. Fraudsters will make their way into almost every platform, so you need to strategize your defense mechanisms to guard against them. Only buy a car if the deal seems legit, the seller accepts conventional payment methods, and doesn’t seem to be hiding something.