Safety Centre

Safety Tips When Buying a Vehicle on eBay

At eBay, we have created a successful marketplace in which members complete thousands of transactions daily on our sites globally. Safety is always a top priority for us and we recognise that our thriving environment may also be attractive to criminals who want to take advantage with their deceptive tactics in order to gain your trust. Fraud is an industry-wide problem. eBay invests in the latest technology and devotes thousands of staff to ensure criminals learn, the hard way, that we are proactive in fighting fraud and work work very closely with the police, consumer affairs and regulatory agencies to help keep eBay a safe place to buy and sell.

With all purchases, we encourage members to learn about the seller and review the feedback before completing a transaction. With any feedback, it is also recommended that you view the seller’s history as to the number of sales s/he has conducted for similar items. When making a larger purchase, such as a vehicle, you should always start and complete your transaction on eBay. The following are safety tips for you to keep in mind when considering any vehicle purchase. Vehicles include, but are not limited to, cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, boats, ATVs, campers, trailers and tractors.

Helpful Advice When Buying a Vehicle:

  1. If the vehicle is advertised well below what it is worth, we recommend that you:
    • Know the approximate value of the vehicle you are interested in buying. 
    • Compare prices against other, similar items for sale.

    FACT: Criminals will make the vehicle very appealing and tempt you with a price you don't want to miss out on. A good rule of thumb is ‘if the price is too good to be true, it probably is’ 

    You should also pay close attention to the contents of the listing.  Do the photographs look like the vehicle being offered?  You should be cautious if the pictures appear generic and/or possibly copied from the manufacture’s website or other publication.  If they look fabricated, this may be an indication the listing is not legitimate. 

  2. If you cannot meet the Seller, or look at the vehicle, prior to sending a payment due to a special circumstance. The Seller  may be  very polite and/or apologetic, but s/he tells you of a reason such as:
    • Seller is being/has been deployed by the Army
    • Vehicle is in another location from you (for example, it’s in Scotland or it can shipped from Germany)
    • Seller is going through a divorce (or getting married)
    • Death in the family or a health issue of a relative
    • Seller is out of town for an extended amount of time; perhaps they work on a boat or are unavailable due to another unique reason

    FACT: Legitimate sellers are motivated and will make every effort to meet with all potential buyers immediately.  If the seller cannot meet, they will designate another person to show the vehicle on their behalf.

  3. Criminals may want to lure you into feeling safe and take extra effort to disguise their identity.  If you receive an email that includes links, please be careful as you may be redirected to a different website that looks like eBay, but is not.  We encourage you to always inspect emails closely and be cautious of the following:
    • Emails NOT sent from the ‘’ domain.  Criminals may use a recognisable word or name in their email/domain name in their attempt to trick you.   
    • Emails reflecting  false information like invoice numbers, transaction or VPP Case ID #s, like this
    • Emails containing poor grammar, broken English or other distinguishing errors, like misspelled words or incorrect punctuation.   
    • Language that seems overly formal or sounds mechanical.  The email may not be personalised , such as  ‘Dear Valued Customer’

    FACT:  All communication that occurs on the eBay platform between members will always appear on the Messages tab in My eBay.  The only way to buy a vehicle on eBay is by logging into your eBay account with a user ID/email address and password, and checking one of the following is true:

    • ✔  You were the winning bidder on the auction or
    • ✔  You clicked ‘Buy it Now’ or
    • ✔  You sent a best offer and the seller accepted it

    If you don't see the same message there, the email is fake. To report a fake email, forward it to

    As a reminder, Classified Ads are conducted off the eBay platform and you will work directly with the seller.  These transactions will not appear in your purchase history. 

  4. If a Seller claims the purchase is covered by an eBay vehicle protection or eBay warranty program and/or there is a return policy, such as:
    • eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection or VPP  (see example)
    • eBay Money Back Guarantee or eMBG  (see example)
    • You are entitled to a refund if are unsatisfied with the vehicle  (see example)   

    FACT:   eBay does NOT offer any of these programs or refunds for vehicle purchases on the UK site.  If the seller tells you about any of these, this is likely fraud, and you should walk away.   
    To learn more about the eBay Money Back Guarantee, please click here. In addition, the eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP) plan is only offered in the US and Canada (additional terms and conditions apply)      

  5. If a Seller pushes for speedy completion of the transaction and requests payment through a service or method that can put the money in their hands quickly, such as:
    • Direct Bank Transfer where the bank account is provided (see example)  
    • Western Union or Money Gram (see example
    • ReLoad It Card (see example
    • eBay Holding Account, Escrow Account or eBay Financial Centre (see example)

    FACT:  Common payment methods used in legitimate purchases are cash in person, PayPal, credit card, money order, cashier's/personal cheque, or financial loans. Criminals may tell you the eBay Financial Centre will manage the transaction and you can deposit money into an eBay Holding/Escrow Account.  Fraudsters may tell you the money not be released until you are satisfaction with the purchase.  This is FRAUD; eBay does NOT offer Escrow or other types of holding accounts.
    Some Sellers may ask you to submit a deposit in order to secure the vehicle and so they will no longer pursue other buyers.  It is important that both parties are in agreement with the terms of the deposit and there is an understanding if this deposit is or is not refundable should you decide not to complete the purchase.  It is always advisable to provide the money once you have viewed the item in person and wish to continue in the transaction.  
    In addition, although sellers may request bank transfers or wire payment, proceed with caution with these methods.  It is always a good idea to inspect the vehicle before sending money.  You may want to provide payment at the time you pick up the vehicle.

  6. Private seller offers free shipping of the vehicle to you. Criminals may tell you they have access to transportation resources, possibly through an employer or because they are in the Army.  This may be free to you, even if it is a great distance.
    • Similar to being priced below what it is worth, this typically is a tactic used to entice potential buyers

    FACT: On eBay, as the buyer, you typically are responsible for picking up the vehicle or hiring a shipping company. Some eBay Motors Dealers may offer free shipping.  To determine if the listing is from a Private Seller or Dealer please refer to the field labeled "For Sale By" within the description tab under the Item specifics section.  The Motors Dealer logo will also appear for verified members next to the user ID/feedback.  Click here to view the logo.

    At eBay, we work hard to create and maintain a safe marketplace.  Members have successfully purchased thousands of vehicles year after year.  We encourage you to use your judgement and consider these tips with all online transactions and research the item you are intending to purchase, carefully before making any payments.  If you are unsure if the vehicle being offered is legitimate, please contact eBay Customer Service.   In addition, please view eBay’s policy on stolen goods by clicking here.