Today, you can buy just about anything online, including an ATV or UTV. However, it can be difficult to know which sellers and websites to trust. Knowing how to protect yourself from potential scams is the most important part of shopping online. As you search the internet for an off-road vehicle, remember ATV Trader’s 12 tips for avoiding scams when buying an ATV online.
1. Shop on a Secure Website
The first step to shopping for an ATV or UTV online is to only use trusted websites. Your internet browser tells you if a website is safe with a padlock symbol in the upper left side of the URL box. If a website is unsecure, many browsers will ask you to verify that you would like to proceed. Website URLs can also indicate the protection levels of a site. “HTTPS” at the beginning of a URL means that the information you enter into a site, including username, password, and payment information, will be encrypted and secure from malicious parties.
2. Be Careful Using Public Wi-Fi
Browsing on private, secured networks is always best practice when shopping online. An unsecured public network lacks security features that can protect you and any information you enter on websites. It’s okay to browse on public Wi-Fi, but it’s a safer option to make any purchases and enter payment information over a private network. If you have to put in any personal information online, a virtual private network (VPN) can help keep your privacy protected when you use public Wi-Fi.
3. Verify the Seller
If you don’t personally know who is listing the off-road vehicle for sale, get a bit of background on the seller. If the unit is listed on a website with user profiles, make sure the seller has the key information filled out, including contact information. This can quickly distinguish a real account from a fake. Search the seller’s name and phone number to see if it’s been linked to any scam reports.
4. Read Online Reviews
One of the easiest ways to avoid scams is to learn from others by reading reviews. Online reviews can help you decide which websites, and even sellers, are best or worst. Utilize review websites that provide impartial and credible information from experts and consumers. Find ATV reviews on the retailer’s website, through search engines, on social media, and more. As you’re reading reviews, consider when it was posted, who wrote it, and even check out the reviewer’s history to avoid fake or misleading information.
5. Click Links Carefully
As you click around different websites, be careful of outbound links that could be phishing scams. Some of these links could redirect you to an unsafe website or even download malware to your computer. To check the link before you click on it, hover your mouse over the hyperlink and preview the URL at the bottom of your browser.
6. Confirm the Vehicle is Real
You’ve found the ATV or UTV you’ve been searching for, but how do you know it’s legit? Prioritize listings with photos of the actual unit over manufacturer or stock images. If you’re still feeling unsure, ask the seller to send you a picture with a timestamp to verify that the off-road vehicle is currently in their possession.
7. Certify the Deal
Online shopping is popular because of the array of deals offered. When you find an off-road vehicle that you’re interested in, look up its value from the OEM or another authorized retailer. If a third party is selling the ATV or UTV at an outrageous discount, it could be a scam. Chances are if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Use price comparison websites to make sure you’re getting the best offer and not being overcharged. When you come to an agreement with the seller, confirm that the price includes any taxes, fees, and potential shipping costs before you pay.
8. Don’t Give Out Too Much Personal Information
Be aware of how much personal information you’re giving out, along with who you’re giving it to, when shopping for an off-road vehicle online. A seller or website should only require your name, payment information, email address, and maybe a phone number for a sale. If you don’t feel comfortable giving out your phone number, consider using a Google Voice number instead. This allows you to cut ties with a seller after the transaction is complete. Most importantly, never, ever give out your social security number or bank account information. Any seller or company that asks for this should be considered suspicious.
9. Pay through Secure Methods
When it comes time to pay for your ATV or UTV, an online retailer will offer you payment options. These can include PayPal, debit cards, or credit cards. It’s a red flag when a seller or website asks for payment via direct money transfers. This is a risky option that can leave you unprotected if there’s an issue with the purchase. PayPal and many credit card companies have a wide range of security features that can protect you and your personal information from fraud.
10. Check Your Account Statements after Purchase
Once you pay for your off-road vehicle, make a habit of regularly checking your payment’s account statement. Be on the lookout for any changes to the charge amount or potentially fraudulent activity. Check these statements online to receive the most up-to-date information; it’s much faster than waiting for a paper statement in the mail. If you do notice anything suspicious, quickly contact your bank or card provider.
12. Find Out Your Consumer Rights
Conclusion: While buying ATVs and UTVs is easier online, shoppers need to make sure they don’t take unnecessary risks. Following these tips can help keep you and your personal information protected as you shop for an ATV or UTV. Remember, if a website or seller seems off, trust your gut. Begin your search for a new or used off-road vehicle on ATVTrader.com, a trusted and reliable online marketplace.