How to steer clear of fraud when buying a used car

“When I bought a used car privately last year, everything went so smoothly. The car drove great, my mechanic gave it the thumbs up, the price was good. Then a month after the sale, a bailiff showed up to tow my car away. Turns out the seller had stopped making payments on their car loan, and the lender had a lien on the car that I didn't know about. I had no idea a lender could just take the car even though I didn’t owe them a cent.”

– William, Richmond, BC

British Columbians are twice as likely to buy a used vehicle as to buy a new one. There are some compelling reasons why (it’s cheaper!). But there are also more risks when buying used, especially when buying from a private seller. Whoever you’re buying from, here are six steps you can take to reduce the chances of being a victim of fraud when buying a used car.

How to protect against fraud

  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in October 2022
  • Time to read: 5 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Mario Garcia, CarbonCure Technologies

Mario Garcia

Also on this topic

Still not sure what to do?

If you're looking for advice specific to your situation, there are options for free or low-cost help.

Options for legal help

We are grateful to work on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, whose Peoples continue to live on and care for these lands.