Security when buying a car


Currently, e-mails are sent using the originator AutoScout24, in which AutoScout24 allegedly presents results from their own checks carried out. The e-mail does not come from AutoScout24 - this is a scam! AutoScout24 is a platform for the purchase and sale of vehicles on the Internet and cannot confirm the accuracy of an advertisement, as solely the advertiser is responsible for the accuracy of the content of his/her advertisement. Furthermore, AutoScout24 does not carry out any checks on the vehicles advertised and does not make any recommendations. Should you have any questions, please mail directly.

Vehicle searches on the Internet are fast and easy, and you can receive suitable offers for your cheapest dream vehicle in the shortest possible time. But a few black sheep capitalize on this desire for a bargain. So unfortunately scam loopholes have developed into which unsuspecting and trusting buyers and sellers can easily fall.

However, it is easy to be protected from scams if you follow a couple of rules. Many of the scams are as ols as those you come across when using the used car market in your daily paper, such as concealing accident damage, tacho manipulation, incorrect number of previous owners, forged papers and so on.

The new traps on the Internet can be summarized in a few words:

  • Data theft using so-called "phishing e-mails"
  • Financial fraud through advance payments (cheques, transfers or Western Union)
  • Expensive telephone calls


In this, counterfeit e-mails are sent in the name of a known company, in which you are requested to click on a link that then sends you to a counterfeit website. There you are asked to enter personal and confidential data such as your user name and password.

You can recognise phishing e-mails by the following:

  • In the mail you are requested to enter confidential data into a form or to follow a direct link
  • Counterfeit mails often contain numerous grammatical and spelling errors
  • Urgent reasons such as impending data loss or ostensible security checks are put forward as an excuse.

Protect yourself from phishing e-mails as follows:

  • Be suspicious if you receive unsolicited e-mails about the points above
  • Do not click on the direct link and do not download any file attachments
  • Do not provide any confidential data

AutoScout24 will never send you unsolicited e-mails where you have to open an attachment or enter data.

If you are unsure whether an e-mail has actually come from AutoScout24 or if you have definitely received a counterfeit e-mail in the name of AutoScout24, please contact our customer service team.


1. "Too good to be true"

If you should come across a bargain that is far below the standard market price, you should check the offer critically and if necessary take a close friend along. A sports car offered at 20, 30 or even 50 percent below the market value should be left well alone. Even on the Internet, people know the value of their vehicle. So compare the price online with other, similar offers. Use our Schwacke vehicle valuation to determine the actual market price of any car.

"To good to be true?" - It generally is!

2. Never buy unseen

Buying a car is not a confidential matter. As a private potential buyer, you should never make a payment without having seen what you are buying (see below). You should thoroughly check the vehicle and take a test drive, because you do not know the seller at all. You are about to give him/her hundreds or even thousands of Euros for his/her vehicle. So convince yourself that the car is also worth this amount. In addition, you only come into legal ownership of the vehicle when you have the vehicle papers (the originals!) and all the ignition keys.

3. Do not make any down payments

Any serious vehicle dealer will confirm to you that no down payment is necessary to reserve a vehicle. You do not know the recipient of the down payment, find that he's done a runner and the vehicle maybe doesn't even exist.

4. Cash in the hand

Avoid any cash-free means of payment. Money transfers by Western Union or MoneyGram are not made for standard payment transactions. As the depositor, you have no direct means of checking the recipient and the bank will not provide any security. The same applies to cheque payments in the case of refunds by bank transfer: in Europe, it may take several weeks for a cheque to bounce. Neither do banks offer any security against this. Only trust cash.

5. Never without the documents

When buying a vehicle, you should insist on the following documents:

  • Personal ID of the seller/holder. Check the name on the ID and the vehicle papers, as well as the photo.
  • Vehicle registration document and log book. Compare the stated chassis number with that in the engine compartment.
  • Written purchase agreement. You need one of these in order to take any legal steps at a later date (regarding tacho manipulation, accident damage).

6. The best trustee is YOURSELF

Dubious sellers may suggest that you use an escrow service or even propose that you use one from AutoScout24 - but AutoScout24 and MotoScout24 do not offer an escrow service!

There are also no AutoScout24 or MotoScout24 "warehouses" as asserted in some scam e-mails.

At AutoScout24, many employees work on checking advertisements for integrity. However, we cannot be one hundred percent sure that no dubious advertisements go online.

This is why we ask you to please take the opportunity to report such advertisements to us. You can do this easily and securely using the online form on each page of advertisements.

So that the purchase of your dream car or motorbike does not become a nightmare, here are a couple of basic rules:

Take the time to make a price comparison. You can do this quickly and easily online using our Schwacke vehicle valuation.

Take a knowedgeable companion with you for viewing and test driving the vehicle. A critical friend will help to dampen your enthusiasm, because you should buy a car or motorbike with the head, not the heart.

Only pay once you have all the papers and keys and a written purchase agreement has been signed.

7. Do not take up any agency offers

After placing a vehicle advertisement, you may receive an SMS or e-mail asking you to contact a marketing company - generally based abroad. They pretend to have interested buyers and demand an agency fee. On average, this is between € 59 and € 119, without a buyer being guaranteed in writing. Often the name of a vehicle market known to you is used as the sender, or the service is ostensibly recommended by ADAC.

This is a shady business practice, and is sometimes even a scam by a bogus company, whose websites and e-mail addresses, on examination, often lead nowhere. In particular, there are three variations of this "agency scam“:

Contract / Invoice follows the telephone call

  • On calling the telephone number provided, you are verbally promised a potential puyer. Vehicle sellers who declare themselves in agreement with this mediation will receive an invoice a few days later for the agency fee. Reminders follow in the case of non-payment. No contact is ever made between the seller and the potential buyer.
  • After the telephone call, an unsolicited invoice is sent by return post (instead of the requested information material), although no potential buyer was provided.
  • After the telephone call, you are sent a contract, the object of which is not, however, the successful mediation of a buyer - as promised verbally - but only inclusion in a database (look at the Standard Terms of Business!).

Important: Online marketplaces already work as efficient agencies between buyers and sellers. No additional agency is required – even if a potential buyer is verbally promised!