Junkyard scams occur more frequently than they are reported.
When they occur, victims may lose the entire value of their vehicles.
That's why it is important to know how to see a junkyard scam from miles away, and what you can do to avoid running into one in the first place. Here is how to do just that.
7 Common Junkyard Scams to Avoid
Bait and Switch
Bait and Switch is a very common junkyard scam. It happens when a junkyard “baits” you with an enticing offer and then switches just before the deal is completed.
As a result, you are left with no option but to take the new deal.
For example, let’s say you start doing business with a junkyard and you both agree on the value of your car, which is a number that you are happy with. This is the bait.
Then, let’s say the junkyard agrees to come and tow your vehicle the next day, but when they arrive, they inspect the car and offer a lower price. This is the switch.
Because they have come with all their towing gear, they say that they will charge you for towing, even if they do not go back with your vehicle.
At this point, you may be forced to take their new price to avoid losing money since you were prepared to sell your vehicle.
No Transfer of the Car’s Title
Most car sellers do not understand the importance of signing over the title once a transaction is completed.
Some shady junkyards will offer to handle all the paperwork involved in transferring registration and the title for you.
Despite that, they could fail to do so and months later you may receive a hefty bill for parking or storage fees, alongside a notice to collect the car.
You will be liable for anything that the vehicle may have been involved in. That is why it is always important to be involved in the junkyard paperwork.
Some junkyards will give excuses when it comes to making payment.
Whenever you are asked to wait for a check after your vehicle has been towed away, you should be very concerned. Chances are high that the check will never come.
Exorbitant Towing Fees
Most legitimate junkyards will cover towing costs. When you are charged for towing fees, though, it should be a realistic figure.
On the flip side, some junkyards will give you a very good price for your vehicle but fail to mention what they charge for towing.
Later, when they come to tow your vehicle, they give you a bill that’s much higher than you were expecting.
Undervaluing Your Car
Scammers are usually fast to sense a car seller who needs cash and is eager to get an offer.
When this happens, they are likely to offer you a very low price by undervaluing your car.
If you think that you are likely to be baited easily by an immediate offer, regardless of how bogus it is, you are better off going with a friend who can help you make a better decision.
You should get at least three quotes from different junkyards and then compare them all.
Free Gifts That Have No Value
Some junkyards will entice you with raffles or free gifts that are worth nothing.
They use this to cover up extraneous costs that they add to the cost of the transaction.
Don’t be fooled by cheap gifts, and make sure you both understand all the costs involved in the transaction beforehand and countercheck.
Operating Without a License
Don't agree to engage with a junkyard that is operating without a license.
If they do not obey the law in one area, what makes you think they do obey the law in other areas?
Be on the lookout for tell tale signs of insincerity and shadiness.
Don’t be too eager to seal a deal and don’t sign over your car before all paperwork is completed and verified. Also, do not agree to take payment at a later date.