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Fraud Protection Tips

At AutoTrader™ it is in our best interest to help serve our customers. We provide thousands of vehicle listings every week and we are proud to say that most of our users have had very satisfying experiences.

We are constantly monitoring our advertisements and eliminating fraudulent postings and scams on a regular basis. However, some of them are not completely evident and thus may result in fraudulent ads posted on our site.

Buyers and sellers should be vigilant in conducting their own research whenever they choose to purchase or sell a vehicle.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a common online scam designed to trick you into disclosing your personal or financial information for the purpose of financial fraud or identity theft.

How does it work?

  • You receive an email appearing to be from AutoTrader. The email will use a false or fake reason to encourage you to disclose information. For example 'we need to verify your credit card' or 'we need to confirm your details'.
  • These encourage you to click on a link that takes you to a fake website, again designed to look like AutoTrader.ca in order to trick you.
  • This fake site will ask you for personal information such as credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, date of birth, driver's license number, and social insurance numbers.
  • Thus you may think you are giving your information to us, but in reality you are providing it to a fraudster.

How to spot phishing?

  • The email will normally use unusual language and offer a very vague reason for needing your information.
  • The site it links to may have an unusual address in the URL bar, which may show a prefix of http:// instead of https://. Our actual correct URLs are sellmycar.autotrader.ca, sell.autotrader.ca, www.autotrader.ca, wwwa.autotrader.ca, wwwb.autotrader.ca. and will be secured by SSL using a certificate issued to Trader Corporation which you can identify from the lock icon shown below (this varies from browser to browser).
  • Fake sites will have something similar but not quite the same as shown above, for example
    www.auto-trader.example.org
    autotrader.example.com
    example.com & example.org are domain names reserved for use in examples.

What to do if you are unsure?

  • If you receive an email which you suspect may be phishing, do not click any links or enter any details. Instead, contact us immediately here - we're here to help and can verify whether the email is genuinely from us.
  • If we ever need to contact you for something as important as credit card information we will call you - we won't email.
  • Don't click on links in emails but instead open your web browser and navigate directly to the site - it's only by clicking on the link in the email that you will end up on the fake site.

How to Protect Yourself from Fraud?

It is important to remember that when buying or selling a vehicle, one should be wary of:

  • AutoTrader.ca name and logo usage as a form of reassurance
  • Buyer/Seller refuses to talk via telephone
  • Low prices make the deal seem too good to be true
  • High-value cashier's cheque in exchange for the vehicle
  • Out of country sellers
  • Elaborate and dramatized stories about the seller or buyer
  • Personal information being asked
  • Shipping orders and other arrangement propositions (financial, etc.)
AutoTrader.ca connects buyers and sellers in search of a vehicle. AutoTrader.ca does not guarantee the security of any transactions, nor will it endorse any sales or purchases. Except for limited circumstances [1] [2], AutoTrader.ca does not provide any form of financing and type of money payment contracts with its buyers or sellers.

Suspicious, unsolicited or unexpected e-mails claiming to be a part of the AutoTrader.ca association should be ignored as well as reported to us. Even if the e-mail address contains the AutoTrader.ca name and/or logo, this does not mean it is from one of our representatives. Always carefully review the contents of any emails purportedly sent to you on behalf of AutoTrader.ca and do not rely solely on the presence of our name, logo, or any other common marks or other distinguishing features of AutoTrader.ca, fraudsters may readily use any one or more these to help make them appear more legitimate.

If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of an ad or a business, contact us by clicking here.

Tips to Avoid Common Frauds

Common Fraud
  • AutoTrader.ca brand name and logo used as a form of reassurance
  • AutoTrader.ca name and logo may be misused to create confusion
  • Except for authorized emails in connection with deposits and financing [3] [4], anyone using the AutoTrader.ca name encouraging you to buy a car or asking you to send them money as a third party money service is coming from a fraudulent e-mail address. Please be cautious.
  • AutoTrader will never solicit payment or insist on payment from prepaid credit cards. These include, but are not limited to, Vanilla Prepaid Mastercard and Vanilla Prepaid Visa. Please remain cautious of these requests.
Usage of an online escrow service
  • An escrow is a secured online site used to complete transactions
  • Most online escrow sites are FRAUDULENT
  • For more information, conduct an Internet search on "fake escrow" or "escrow fraud"
  • If you must do business with a distant seller, insist on using a legitimate service, such as www.escrow.com
Partial payment asked upfront
  • Seller says that they trust you with the partial payment and that you must send it before they ship the vehicle
  • They may also say they have already shipped the vehicle so you must send them the necessary money
Claims that only e-mail is available
  • Many fraudulent sellers only want to be contacted by e-mail
  • The buyer/seller says that a meeting is impossible, often explains extreme circumstances and elaborate stories as to why a meeting cannot be arranged
  • Many fraudulent sellers will post a phone number that does not even work
High-value cashier's cheque from a distant buyer
  • Distant buyer sends you an email offering to buy your item for a price exceeding its value
  • A cashier's cheque is offered for your sale item, as a deposit on your vehicle or vehicle parts
  • Banks will often cash these fake cheques and they hold you responsible once the cheque fails to clear
  • Scam often involves a third party (shipping agent, business associate owing buyer money, etc.)

How to Buy a Used Vehicle Safely

You've finally found the vehicle of your dreams on our site, now how do you go about buying it safely?

  • Contact the customer directly by the phone number listed on our site. If it does not work, do not go about solely through e-mail. Most cases of fraud are e-mail based.
  • Meet in a public place during daylight hours.
  • Make sure to arrange a meeting with the seller so that you may see the listed vehicle. If the seller refuses to allow you to inspect the vehicle, stop the deal. It is probably a case of fraud.
  • Never share personal information (banking information, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) and do not transfer money via wire funds (Western Union, Money Gram, etc.).
  • Enjoy your new vehicle once everything has been completed!

How to Sell a Used Vehicle Safely

  • You have settled on a price and have designed and written an attractive ad for your vehicle. Now, who do you choose to sell to?
  • Be honest with your buyer if your vehicle has any issues, make sure to meet the customer and provide them with answers to any questions they may have. If a customer contacts you willing to buy your car without having seen it or asking any questions, it is highly likely that he\she is a fraudulent buyer.
  • Make sure the prospective buyer has a valid driver's license, especially if he\she is going to be taking your car for a test drive.
  • Never share personal information (banking information, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) and do not transfer money via wire funds (Western Union, Money Gram, etc.).
  • Once having selected a buyer, make sure you collect the payment by a certified cheque or cash, do not accept a personal cheque.

How to Report Fraudulent Ads

At AutoTrader.ca, we hope to make buying or selling your vehicle a pleasant experience. Should you ever come across a suspicious advertisement that does not comply with the rules and standards of AutoTrader.ca, contact us by clicking here.

If you have been a victim of fraud, you may also choose to contact:

By bringing a fraudulent situation to our attention, AutoTrader.ca can conduct the appropriate verifications and can act consequently.

How to safely let a buyer test drive your car

  • Speak with the buyer ahead of time about how you plan to arrange the test drive.
  • Confirm they have a valid driver’s license and that the picture is the same person who is going to test drive the car.
  • Let them know that you will be taking a photo of their driver’s license details and sharing it with a friend or family member who is aware of your location.
  • Research the buyer before meeting. There is nothing wrong with asking them to text you a photo of their identification in advance of the test drive and doing online background research in advance.
  • Communicate with them via text when you’re discussing the vehicle details and setting up your meeting. Emails can be anonymous and it’s easier to track someone down through a cell phone number if it’s required in the future.
  • Upon meeting, be aware of your physical safety. Always meet with the buyer in a public place and during daylight hours. It is common for buyers and sellers to meet in the parking lot of a police station or fire hall to make the process safer. Check in with your local police station to see if they allow/encourage this, and if not, ask if there are alternative meeting places they recommend.
  • Check the driver’s license of your potential buyer. Ensure they’re who they say they are. Take a note of their details. If they do not have their license with them, stop the process.
  • Make sure they’re insured to drive your car. If they’re not covered by your insurance, insist on seeing proof that their insurance does cover them.
  • Do not allow a buyer to test drive the car on their own. Do not allow the buyer to bring someone else on the test drive.
  • When test driving a car with the buyer, bring your phone with you and make sure it’s fully charged. Use your cell phone to let a friend or family member track your location live and ask them to keep an eye on where you are at what time. Stay in contact with your friend or family member throughout the process. For extra security, take someone else along with you for the test drive.



[1] Vehicle Deposits - As a way to further enhance our ‘Online Seller Plus’ and ‘Try Before you Buy’ experiences, AutoTrader.ca, via its authorized third-party, MotoCommerce, offers customers limited options to pay for vehicle deposits. Deposits are not available for all vehicles. AutoTrader.ca makes deposits available only for the vehicles of dealership partners who have registered for our ‘Buy Online’ platform. AutoTrader.ca does not make any representation or warranty that deposits will be available for any particular vehicle you may desire.

[2] Private Financing - As a way to further enhance buying a private vehicle, AutoTrader.ca, via its authorized third-party, ITF Solutions, offers customers limited financing options to pay for vehicles. Private vehicle financing is not available for all vehicles. AutoTrader.ca makes private vehicle financing available only for the vehicles of private sellers. AutoTrader.ca does not make any representation or warranty that private financing will be available for any particular vehicle you may desire.

[3] For vehicle deposits, we will send you emails from one of our authorized email addresses, which will always end in one of the following: (i) @trader.ca; (ii) @email.autotrader.ca; (iii) @autotrader.ca; or (iv) @autohebdo.net.

[4] As AutoTrader.ca’s authorized third-party for private financing, you will also receive an email(s) from atfinancing@iftsolutions.com.