13 Ways to Avoid Scams when Buying Equipment Online

  • Editorial Team
  • Heavy Construction Equipment
  • 14 February 2020

As a leading provider of used construction machinery and heavy equipment, MY Equipment knows how useful of a tool the internet is when it comes to finding the next machine to add to your inventory or to complete a project.  However, despite the convenience of online shopping, a buyer must at the same time be cautious to avoid scams when making an online purchase, especially when buying a big-ticket item such as a piece of heavy equipment.  Although there is an increase in scams during peak construction season, they can happen at any time, and therefore, we have compiled a list of ways to avoid being scammed.

1. Verify that the seller is a real entity. If someone is selling heavy equipment, that individual should be able to provide the name of their company, business address, phone number, and e-mail address.  Look up the company address on Google maps and make sure that it is associated with the business.  Complete a Google search of the telephone number to ensure that it is matches the company and hasn’t been reported as spam.  Check the contact information on the company website to see e-mail format to confirm that the seller is using a company e-mail account and not a personal account.  If anything seems off or is suspicious at all, it should be viewed as a warning and the buyer should proceed with extreme caution.

2. Read company reviews to be sure that the company is rated well and customers are satisfied and have provided positive feedback. Take note if others have left negative comments or made any claims of being scammed.  Do not move forward with a transaction if the seller is a known scammer.

3. Ask industry contacts about their experiences with the company. Use your friends, co-workers, and others in the industry who may have dealt with the seller before as a reference about the validity of the sale.  Industry peers may be able to provide you feedback about whether the person or company selling the equipment is a good partner to work with as well as other relevant information such as preferred communication methods so you can better determine if anything seems out of the ordinary course of business.

4. Analyze the seller website. Evaluate everything on the site and make sure that it appears professional, that there are not grammar and spelling mistakes, and that all images are clear.  Be critical and make sure there is nothing odd about the appearance of the website.  Look for verifiable endorsements such as from the Better Business Bureau, and if such seals of approval are shown, search the Better Business Bureau site as well to verify that the claims are valid.

5. Verify that the product being purchased is real. Confirm that any pictures shown of the machine are of that actual unit and not just stock photos from a generic model that can be found in Google images.  Ask the seller if they can provide photos of the serial number plate, hour meter, and other such items to ensure that you are viewing the specific machine.

6. Confirm that the deal being offered is legitimate. Great deals are available if you search hard enough, however many times if a deal seems too good to be true then it very well might be.  If the seller asks for sensitive information or requests charges be paid upfront, that could be a big red flag to alert the buyer of a fraudulent transaction.  Ask yourself if the deal seems reasonable or is comparable to other similar deals that the company or other companies in the industry have offered in the past.  If it seems out of the ordinary or you have never heard of anyone else making this type of offer, view it as a warning sign and be cautious moving forward with the purchase.

7. Be careful when clicking on links provided. Scams aren’t always about deceiving you into sending money but can also be related to hacking your computer and stealing your identity and personal and financial information.  Be vigilant before clicking on unknown links as they may redirect you to an unsafe website or download a virus onto your computer.  Hover over a link to preview the URL to which you will be redirected or right click and copy the link into a search engine to check search results.  Do not click a link until you verify that the web page can be trusted.

8. Do not provide the seller too much information. Typically, when purchasing a piece of heavy equipment, you may be asked to provide your name, address, phone number, and credit card details.  If the seller requests additional sensitive information such as your social security number or other personal details, be suspicious and stay vigilant not to provide anything that could make you susceptible to theft.

9. Enter confidential information only on secure websites. Make sure that the website is encrypted (SSL or TLS) before providing sensitive personal info.  Encryptions create a secure connection between your web browser and the server of the company you are buying from, and encrypted websites will show a padlock and begin with the letters https in the address bar.  Do not enter payment unless the website is secure.

10. Make payments via secure methods. Again, only enter payment info into a secure website.  Also, using a credit card will allow the buyer to recover their money from the credit card company if a transaction is fraudulent.  Last, avoid using wires and direct money transfers, if at all possible, as this means of payment makes it incredibly difficult to get your money back if a scam occurs.

11. Utilize the credit card protection services that many credit card companies offer. These services may offer you a unique number to use on specific websites.  If anyone gets ahold of your credit card information from those specified sites, they will be unable to use it elsewhere thus saving the user from being scammed out of a significant amount of money.

12. Review your bank statements. Look at your banking website or app regularly to view electronic statements instead of waiting on the monthly paper statements to arrive in the mail.  This will allow you to stay on top of your finances and identify any fraudulent charges right away so that you can better take action and recover any money lost.

13. Read the privacy policy and consumer rights policy on the company website. Make sure that the selling company has a privacy policy in place protecting your personal information so that it is not used for anything other than that specific purchase and will not be given out to third parties.  They should also have a policy protecting your rights as a consumer which addresses warranties, returns, and other related items.  Use caution if a website does not contain such policy statements.

We hope that these suggestions can help in your online heavy equipment shopping efforts and help you avoid being scammed.  The best thing that a buyer can do in any situation is to be cautious and stay vigilant and to do whatever they can to protect their private information.