Tips to Protect Yourself With When Shopping for a Car

Now with the warmer weather around, many of you are out shopping for a new car and looking for that once in a lifetime deal that seems too good to be true.
Deputy S. Cerda with The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit in partnership with ABTPA would like the citizens to think twice before purchasing a vehicle on the internet.
He has some great tips on how to keep from falling victim of scams while shopping for a car.
The more popular sites that are being sought after for these purchases are Craigslist and Offer Up.
Unfortunately, many citizens are being preyed upon by these common thieves and scam artist using these sites.
It also appears that their tactics are working, due to the increase in reported losses.
Although you take the time to follow these steps, it’s no guarantee that the vehicle is not stolen.
We only ask that you take these extra steps to help safe guard your purchase.

 No Title, No Deal.
 Verify the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the Dash with the Mylar Sticker on the driver side door area. Look for any tampering or inconsistencies.
 Absolutely no hand written VIN on the title/paper work.
 Look for any misspellings and type errors.
 Check for lack of “Document numbers” on the title.
 Verify the title by an unbiased third party of your choice, if possible.
 Avoid the backyard and parking lot sales transactions.
 Insist on taking a picture of the sellers’ identification and the seller themselves.
 If the above steps cannot be verified at the time of purchase, walk away.
 If you have questions, contact your local authorities.
If it sounds too good to be true, then usually it is.
And always remember when you’re out and about, take your belongings of your car – never leave purses, bags, money, electronics or other valuables in plain sight.
If you suspect you have fallen victim of a car buying scam, do not hesitate to call our non-emergency number at
With these tips in mind, I hope you have a safe car buying experience!

Filed in: Message from the Sheriff, News

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