ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Purchasing a used car can be a smart financial decision, especially if you have a limited budget. However, due to the pandemic, used cars are more expensive than normal because of shortages.

The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints every year about used car dealers. In western Virginia, used car sales were among the top 10 industries with the most complaints in 2020.

Before you spend your hard-earned money on a used car, the BBB has a few tips to keep you safe from scammers:

  • Do your research on the business or owner selling the vehicle.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. According to the BBB, your monthly car payment should not be more than 20% of your monthly after-tax income.
  • Take it for a test drive.
  • Check the car’s history. It’s important to know what the car has been through, such as wrecks or mechanical problems, and whether it is still under warranty.

“You always want to have some sort of warranty and don’t purchase a car as is,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of BBB Serving Western Virginia. “If you purchase a car as is and it blows up as you drive off the lot, the lot has no responsibility whatsoever for it. You want to see if there’s any manufacturers warranty remaining, or if not, what type of insurance the lot provides.”

If you see a used car online, here are a few tips to avoid getting scammed.

  • Watch out for deals that are too good to be true.
  • Never wire funds or complete bank-to-bank transactions. 
  • Contact the seller by phone.
  • See the car first.
  • Don’t give in to pressure.
  • Don’t trust a seller or buyer who says the transaction is guaranteed by eBay, PayPal, Craigslist, or another online marketplace.