In today’s digital age nearly everyone has heard about the need to protect themselves when conducting business online, and that includes online boat shopping. Fraudulent activity is the use of online mediums to make fraudulent offers to sell or buy products, items or services for financial or personal gain. Many fraud deals involve shipping, wire transfers, over-payment or cashiers checks. To help you better protect yourself from fraudulent activity, here are the top 10 ways to avoid scams for buyers and sellers, as you shop for a new boat or yacht online:
1. Buy from a reputable broker. That’s one of the reasons why shopping on Yachtworld.com is a good move; listings on this site are provided by subscribing member yacht brokers and dealers, not individuals. Read The CPYB Designation: What Does it Mean?, to gain a better understanding of why dealing with an accredited broker is a good move.
2. Know the yacht’s average market value. Be suspicious of any boat that’s priced significantly below market value. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can see average values by looking them up in the NADA Guides.
3. Be cautious of individuals posing as agents. This is especially true when dealing with someone from outside of the country. Again, brokers and dealers who subscribe to Yachtworld.com can be trusted, but third parties should raise a red flag.
4. Don’t use money transfer services to pay for online purchases. Money transfer services such as Western Union even advise against this. Once the seller receives this money, there’s no way for you to get it back. Be cautious of any seller who will only accept it as payment.
5. Have a surveyor give the yacht a once-over. Surveyors are trained to know where and what to look for, to check for damage, defects, or anything that doesn’t meet safety standards. When you’re shopping online seeing the boat for yourself may require significant travel, and investing in a survey before buying plane tickets is a smart move. See Marine Surveyors Earn Their Fee, for more information about the services a surveyor can provide.
6. Confirm contact information. Always verify and double-verify the seller’s physical address and phone number before sending payment. Zip codes, area codes, and addresses should match up. Check with public directories and try to meet the seller in person.
7. Do not send personal or financial information via email. This includes social security numbers, credit card numbers and checking account numbers—and it goes for all forms of online shopping.
8. Make sure escrow services are reputable and valid, like those used by professional brokers. Read Buying from a Yacht Broker: Commissions, Escrow Accounts, Taxes, and More, to learn more.
9. Research the ins and outs of international purchases, before considering one. The final cost to you as a buyer can be quite different from what the purchase price reflects. You may need to consider thing like VAT tax, international shipping, and other aspects of making an international yacht purchase.
10. Read the Yachtworld Guide to Buying and Selling. An educated buyer is a good buyer, and the more you know, the less likely you’ll be disappointed in the end.