Are you planning on selling your vehicle online to make some extra cash? or maybe you’ve already found someone who wants to buy it, that’s great! It can be a challenge to find the right buyer, so if you seem to have located someone, kudos to you. However, keep in mind that it’s important to be cautious when communicating with the prospective buyer and making plans to meet up. Why is that the case?

The sad reality is that there are a lot of people who just aren’t very trustworthy. If you’re not careful, you could end up becoming a victim of fraud resulting in the loss of time and money—or worse. How can you avoid potential pitfalls when selling your vehicle to someone you don’t know? Here are some steps you can take to prevent possible dangers that come from selling to strangers.

Don’t use your personal email address

Creating a separate e-mail address just for this purpose is one of the most important steps to take, and one you should consider doing before you place your vehicle for sale online.

Your personal e-mail address should not be given out indiscriminately. This is crucial because if someone with bad intentions gets a hold of your e-mail address, there are several devious ways it can be used. For example, someone who knows your personal e-mail address could:

  • Sell it to spammers
  • Use it to gain access to your other online accounts
  • Hijack it and pretend to send malicious messages from you to others

On the other hand, when you use a dedicated e-mail address, you can avoid many of these potential problems. In this case, the purpose is to sell your car, you will want to create a unique address based on the vehicle you’re selling such as “2015_Toyota_Camry_For_Sale” or “BuyMy2005MustangToday.”

This step will help you to protect your real identity and your privacy when communicating with a potential buyer.

Arrange to meet at a public place

If it’s important to protect your personal e-mail address, it’s even more vital to protect your physical location. It’s common sense to never give out your home address to someone you don’t know. Instead, arrange to meet the potential buyer at a public place. Ideally, it’s best to meet the buyer in an area where there is a lot of traffic and at a location that is well-lit.

Ideal places to meet include:

  • A coffee shop
  • A grocery store parking lot
  • A convenience store

Tell others about your meeting

Whenever you plan to meet up with a stranger, you’re always wise to tell a friend or family member about your plans. Let them know that you are meeting someone who is interested in buying your vehicle.

Make sure to let them know when and where you plan to meet, what time you plan to finish, and the name and contact information of the prospective buyer. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong, your loved ones can use this information to try to verify your safety. It can also be helpful to law enforcement personnel should the need for their help arise.

In some cases, you may want to let them know that you will contact them after the meeting to assure them of your safety. Perhaps you can agree in advance that if they don’t hear from you by a prearranged time, they should immediately try to contact you.

Consider doing a background check

Although this step may not be needed in all cases, there may be times when you want to gather some extra information about the person you are meeting. This would especially be true if you are getting a bad vibe about the potential buyer based on your online communication so far. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.

What should you keep in mind if you decide to perform a background check? Here are a few dos and don’ts to consider.


  • Use popular search engines and social media sites to look for basic information about the person
  • Weigh what you find to evaluate if it’s reliable or not
  • Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is


  • Believe everything you read online
  • Ignore your gut instincts


As you can see, most of these steps involve good old fashioned common sense. It always pays to do your own research and have a game plan in advance. By taking a few practical steps such as these, you can make sure that selling your used vehicle remains a safe and profitable endeavor.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.