Scammers target personal info, not vehicles, in a twist on an old scheme, BBB says

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Car owners in Calgary who are seeking to sell their rides are being victimized in a new twist on an old scheme, says a consumer group.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says the new trick consists of scammers posing as buyers, but instead of attempting to take their money or their vehicle, they want access to their victim's personal information.

"This is a twist on a scammer theme," said Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay in a release. "The (fake) buyer indicates they are interested in the car, they ask the seller to supply a background check on the car using a specific website."

Any victim who falls for the trick and clicks on the link the scammer provides leaves themselves open to identity theft, O'Sullivan-Andersen says.

"The website is a scam, often created to gather credit card and personal information."

The BBB states there is a simple way to identify this type of scheme as a scam.

"Typically, the seller of the vehicle does not provide the VIN report," O'Sullivan-Anderson said, adding there are a number of well-known and trusted third party companies that provide such services.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada is one such organization that offers vehicle history reports.

"Be wary if a potential buyer asks you to purchase something from a specific website as a condition for a sale."

While selling your vehicle online is convenient and can fetch higher prices, the BBB says it also leaves you open to scammers if you aren't careful.

In addition to the phony websites, fraudsters also fall back on some of the other common tricks to win big from unsuspecting victims.

Some of those include issuing fraudulent cheques or money orders for more than the vehicle is worth and then telling the victim to keep the overage and offering a full payment for the vehicle without checking it out in person.