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Car Report Scams

Car Report Scams

John had recently decided to sell his 2010 Honda Civic privately online. He listed the car on some popular classifieds sites and was pleased to get a response from an interested buyer only a few days later. The potential buyer asked for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) so he could get a vehicle history report before coming to see the car. Wanting to be transparent, John provided it.


The buyer insisted John use a specific website John had never heard of to get the report. When John visited the site, he was prompted to create an account and enter his credit card information before accessing any reports. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a scam site. The “buyer” stole John’s personal and financial information, leaving him vulnerable to identity theft and credit card fraud.

John’s story is an example of the vehicle history report scam that targets private sellers listing used cars online. Criminals pose as interested buyers to get sellers to visit fraudulent websites and hand over sensitive information or money. This article will explain how to recognize these vehicle history report scams and provide tips to avoid becoming a victim. Selling your car privately can be highly lucrative if you know what red flags to watch out for.

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What is the Vehicle History Report Scam?

The vehicle history report scam typically starts when you post your used car for sale online. Scammers posing as interested buyers will contact you and request a vehicle history report from a specific website. They may claim that this site provides more detailed information than other providers. However, the site is fraudulent and set up by the scammers.

To get the report, you will have to enter personal and payment details into the website. This gives the scammers access to your sensitive information like credit card numbers. In some cases, they will take the payment for the report but never deliver it. In other instances, they will simply steal your financial information for identity theft or fraudulent purchases.

A key indicator of the scam is that the “buyers” will insist that you use their recommended site. They may claim it’s the only one that works for them or provides sufficient detail about the car. This serves to pressure sellers into entering their information onto the fraudulent website.

Once the scammers have your personal and financial information, they either disappear or continue stringing you along about buying the car without ever meeting in person. This prevents you from realizing it’s a scam until the damage is already done.


Spotting Red Flags

When selling a used vehicle privately, it’s important to be on the lookout for suspicious requests or behaviors from potential buyers. These red flags could indicate someone is trying to scam you into providing personal information or money through a vehicle history report scam.

Here are some key things to watch out for:


  • The buyer insists you use a specific, lesser-known vehicle history report website. They may refuse free reports from reputable providers like Carfax or Carproof.
  • The buyer asks for your car’s VIN very early in the discussion, before even seeing the car in person.
  • The buyer offers significantly more money than your car is worth.
  • You receive unsolicited links to vehicle history report websites from the buyer.
  • The buyer pressures, rushes, or threatens you to generate a report from their chosen website.


A buyer refusing free reports, asking for your VIN too soon, or directing you to use an unknown website should all be treated as red flags. Proceed with extreme caution or stop communicating with any buyer that sets off alarm bells.


Motives Behind the Scam

Scammers perpetrate vehicle history report scams for a few key reasons:

They want to steal your personal and financial information. By getting you to enter details like your name, address, credit card, etc. on a fraudulent site, scammers can harvest this data for identity theft or selling it on the dark web.

They aim to charge you money for a worthless report. The sites these scammers insist you use look legitimate but provide fabricated vehicle histories. Once you pay, you receive a fake report while the scammers pocket your money.

They may use your details to commit identity theft. With your personal information, scammers can open fraudulent accounts or make purchases in your name, saddling you with the bill and ruined credit.

Falling for one of these scams can have serious consequences. At best, you are out the money paid for a worthless report. At worst, your identity is stolen and credit damaged, requiring an arduous process to restore your good name.


Protecting Yourself

When selling your used car privately, it is crucial to take steps to protect yourself from potential scams and fraud. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of a vehicle history report scam:


  • Never provide your vehicle’s VIN to a supposed buyer until you meet them in person. This ensures they can’t pull a report or steal your identity without actually seeing the car.
  • Thoroughly research any vehicle history report sites before agreeing to use them. Search for reviews and complaints to verify legitimacy.
  • Only use reputable, secure providers like Carfax or Carproof. These major companies can securely process your payment and information.
  • Take time to validate a buyer’s identity before sharing sensitive details. Ask for ID, proof of funds, and contact info to confirm they are serious.


Following these tips will help you steer clear of scams when selling privately. Avoid providing personal details or reports to unverified buyers, stick to trusted sites, and take steps to validate legitimacy before the sale.


Legitimate Alternatives for Vehicle History Reports

When selling a used vehicle privately, providing a vehicle history report is often expected by buyers. However, you need to ensure you obtain this report through legitimate and secure means, without compromising your personal information.

Here are some tips for providing vehicle history reports safely:


  • Offer to provide a free Carfax or Carproof report from the official website or your local auto dealership. Only send this after validating the buyer is serious.
  • Suggest meeting the potential buyer at a local dealer and using their services to access a vehicle history report together. This allows both parties to view the report at the same time.
  • Allow the buyer to test drive the vehicle before providing your VIN. This helps confirm they are a serious buyer before exchanging sensitive details.
  • Take measures to validate the buyer is legitimate before sharing your VIN or other personal information. Confirm their identity and intent before proceeding.


By using secure, reputable websites and being cautious about providing details to strangers online, you can avoid vehicle history report scams and safely provide buyers with the information they need.


Reporting Scams

If you encounter a vehicle history report scam, it’s important to report it so authorities can investigate and help prevent others from being victimized. Here are some recommendations on where and how to file a report:


Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC is the top government agency for reporting frauds and scams. You can file a complaint through their online form or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.


State Attorney General

Your state attorney general’s office often has a consumer protection bureau that investigates deceptive business practices. Visit your state government website to find the appropriate office.


Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The BBB allows you to submit scam reports on their website to help document shady business practices. Choose your local BBB and look for a “File a Complaint” form.


Online Selling Platforms

If you met the scammer through an online classified site, social media marketplace, or auction site, report them directly to the platform too. This can get their account suspended.


When filing your report, include key details like the scammer’s username, screenshots of your conversation, the name of the fraudulent vehicle history site, and an explanation of the scam attempt. The more evidence you can provide, the better.

Reporting these scams is an important step in protecting yourself and preventing these shady operators from ripping off others down the road.


Avoiding Other Common Car Sale Scams

In addition to vehicle history report scams, there are a few other common tactics scammers use to take advantage of private sellers.

One is requesting an upfront fee before even seeing the car, often under the guise of insurance costs or fake processing fees. No legitimate buyer will ask for money upfront. If you receive such a request, it’s undoubtedly a scam.

Another is sending a fake cashier’s check for more than the asking price, then asking you to wire back the difference. The check will bounce after you’ve already sent real money to the “buyer.” Only accept official bank checks or cash.

Finally, beware of deceptive ads mimicking your own listing, often with a lower price to generate interest. Meet buyers in person before providing sensitive information or accepting any payment.

Recognizing these common tactics ahead of time makes it much easier to avoid being scammed. Always use caution when dealing with unknown buyers.


Sell Safely With Precautions

Selling a used car privately can seem daunting with the rise of online scams, but you can take steps to safely navigate the process:


  • Conduct transactions in a public place like a bank parking lot or police station.
  • Research the buyer’s identity and only provide sensitive details once verified.
  • Never click unsolicited links – type sites directly into your browser.
  • Only accept certified checks for payment and verify funds before releasing the car.
  • Take detailed photos of the car before sale in case of disputes.
  • Remove all personal data from the vehicle prior to meeting a buyer.
  • Trust your instincts – if something seems suspicious, walk away.


While extra precautions are warranted, a private sale can still be the best option for maximizing your car’s value. By following security best practices, you can reduce risks and safely navigate the private sale process.



Throughout this article, we’ve covered the major types of vehicle history report scams to be aware of if you are selling your car privately online. The main scam involves supposed buyers insisting you purchase a report from a specific, fraudulent website in order to steal your personal and financial information. Be very wary if a buyer refuses free reports from reputable sites and pressures you to use an unknown one instead.

There are several ways you can protect yourself, such as never clicking unsolicited links, meeting the buyer in person before providing your VIN, only using trusted report providers, and being cautious about sharing any sensitive details. Validate the buyer’s identity beforehand and don’t take steps like obtaining a vehicle history report until you’ve met them face-to-face.

The key takeaways are: watch for red flags like unusual requests or pressure tactics, safeguard your VIN and payment details, stick to well-known reporting services, and take precautions like test drives or free Carfax reports to avoid falling victim to a scam.

By staying vigilant and following secure practices, you can significantly reduce the risks involved with a private sale and sell your car safely.



Vehicle history scams are on the rise but can be avoided.

To recap, the main signs of a vehicle history report scam include a buyer insisting you use a specific unknown website, refusing free reports from reputable providers, asking for your VIN early in the process, and offering more than your car’s fair value. If you see any of these red flags, stop communicating with the “buyer” immediately.

There are several ways to stay safe when selling your car privately online. Never click unsolicited links, provide your VIN only when meeting the buyer in person, thoroughly research any sites before entering your details, and only use reputable, secure vehicle history report providers. You can also have potential buyers meet you at a dealer to access reports or offer a test drive first.

With the right precautions, you can avoid falling victim to these criminal scams and safely navigate the private sale process. Do your homework on potential buyers, listen to your instincts, and don’t give out sensitive information until you’ve validated the sale. Paying attention to red flags, protecting your personal details, and using secure websites/services will help ensure you don’t get scammed.

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Questions About Car Report Scams

The vehicle history report scam targets people selling their used cars privately online in Canada. Scammers posing as interested buyers will ask the seller to provide a vehicle history report from a specific website before agreeing to purchase. These sites appear legitimate but are fraudulent and created solely to harvest people’s personal and financial information. When the seller enters their details to pay for the report, their information gets stolen.

The scammers browse online classifieds like Kijiji, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace searching for private sellers listing used vehicles for sale. They contact the seller appearing very interested in buying the car and offer a reasonable price. Then they request the seller purchases a vehicle history report from a shady website they provide before finalizing the sale. These sites have names like or The reports cost around $30-$40. When victims enter their personal details and credit card info to pay, the scammers steal this sensitive information. However, no actual sale takes place.

The vehicle history report websites require certain personal and financial details to process a credit card payment. This gives the fraudsters access to full names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, expiry dates, and CVV codes. With this info, they can easily commit identity theft or steal money from people’s accounts. The scammers also receive the vehicle identification number (VIN), which provides details on the car like make, model, year, and ownership history.

Some shady websites scammers have asked Canadian sellers to purchase reports from include:









These sites appear professional at first glance but are fake and used solely to gather personal information illegally. The reports provided are worthless or nonexistent.

Here are some red flags to recognize scams when selling a used vehicle privately:


– Buyer insists you get a report from one specific shady website

– Website name contains “vin check” or “auto check” but is not the reputable Carproof or Carfax

– Requests come through text or email, not phone

– Asks for report before negotiating price or seeing car in-person

– Offers full asking price without viewing the vehicle

– Pressures you to obtain report urgently

If you entered any sensitive personal or financial data on one of these scam websites, take these steps right away:


– Call bank to cancel credit card used and report fraudulent charges

– Place security alert on credit files with Equifax and TransUnion

– Change online account passwords

– Monitor bank statements and credit reports closely for signs of identity theft

– Report scam website to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre


Taking quick action can help minimize damage from the stolen information.

To steer clear of these scams, be wary of buyers asking for reports, especially from any website you don’t recognize. Some precautions include:


– Verify buyer’s identity and only take calls, not just texts or emails

– Don’t provide your VIN until meeting buyer in-person

– Only use Carfax or Carproof which are reputable providers

– Watermark photos to prevent unauthorized test drives

– Meet at police stations for added security


Stay alert and don’t fall for pressure tactics around getting reports.

Yes, this scam has been ramping up across Canada. Reports have come from used car sellers in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and other provinces falling victim once they provide info to the sham websites. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has issued alerts about this fraud persisting nationwide. No area seems immune, especially with online listings making it easy to blanket target sellers everywhere.

If you come across suspicious activity, fake websites, or fall victim to one of these used car seller scams, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at or call 1-888-495-8501. This joint operation run by the RCMP, Competition Bureau, and OPP collects data on frauds impacting Canadians. Reporting scams helps law enforcement track trends and build cases to ultimately prosecute criminal networks.

Canadians taken in by this scam suffer significant monetary damages beyond just the $30-$40 initially spent on the phony websites. With full credit card and personal data acquired, victims have their identities stolen with accounts drained of cash, new credit cards fraudulently taken out in their name and maxed out, lines of credit opened, and more. These compounding costs from the stolen information can leave people paying off unexpected debts for years.

If your information gets compromised via one of these websites and then used to steal your money or commit identity theft, report it to local law enforcement, your provincial consumer protection agency, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and other relevant entities based on the infractions committed against you. Building these official cases is vital, and you may have grounds for lawsuits to recover financial damages depending on factors unique to your scam encounter.

The pandemic saw a massive spike in online used car sales via digital classifieds as people avoided visiting dealerships. This influx of private sellers posting vehicles combined with more scammers sitting at computers targeting them created the perfect storm for this fraud to surge since 2020. Canadians have lost over $4 million combined to these websites hijacking seller data during sales negotiations.

Reputable dealers have subscriptions to services like Carfax and Carproof for running comprehensive background checks on trade-ins. They have no need to request any reports or website access from individuals selling them a vehicle privately. These scams only plague private party sales, preying on sellers less familiar with confirmation of vehicle history before a sale.

Yes, some scammers or dishonest sellers promote vehicles online using altered or fraudulent vehicle history reports that hide issues. When meeting in person, ask to see the official Carfax or Carproof report from reputable databases to verify details on that car. Refuse sales without proper documentation. Whether buying or selling, only trust unedited reports from Carproof or Carfax run officially by sellers or dealerships.

Every Canadian province has tracked vehicle history report scam cases, though Ontario generates over 35% of national reports. After Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, and Nova Scotia round out the top five for frequency and victims impacted. But Manitobans, Saskatchewanians, Newfoundlanders, New Brunswickers, and Prince Edward Islanders have all reported run-ins with websites harvesting data during sales too.

Law enforcement warns that these scams now rank among the most prevalent frauds regularly reported to agencies across Canada. The schemes are endlessly profitable for criminals and expected to keep climbing. Police reinforce securing personal and financial information until meeting an interested buyer in person. They also stress caution providing details to any website not immediately recognizable as reputable.

According to Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre statistics, over $2.8 million has been stolen via vehicle history report scams by October 2022, compared to just $760,000 in losses reported for all of 2021. With the rampant spread of this fraud, 2023 projected losses are expected to keep sharply rising if more sellers don’t exercise awareness. These numbers only reflect reported cases too, so the true victim count is likely higher.

Exercising caution when posting vehicles for sale privately includes:


– Conceal contact info and address in ads

– Blur out license plates in photos

– Meet at safe locations like police stations

– Don’t disclose your VIN right away

– Verify IDs of interested buyers

– Only accept official Carfax or Carproof reports


Following security best practices preserves safety and lowers scam risk substantially.

Alongside standard safety measures when transacting online:


– Avoid clicking links or attachments from unknown contacts

– Beware overpayment scams involving mailed fake cheques

– Don’t deposit funds into your account as a “favor” or to assist “inspections”

– Keep device security software and malware protection updated


Staying alert for phishing attempts and other cyber threats makes a difference.v

Never provide your personal or financial information to any website you don’t recognize, no matter how convincing the scenario may seem. Verify website legitimacy independently first and check with reputable databases like Carproof and Carfax before entering data anywhere else. Prioritizing your sensitive data’s security derails the vast majority of these “buyer” ruses and protects you from exponentially larger troubles down the road.

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