Escrow companies can be helpful
in completing a transaction safely but make sure you are using a legitimate escrow company. Here are a few tips to help you choose a good company.
Don't be talked into using a particular escrow service
Be suspicious of using an escrow service recommended by an online buyer or
seller. Be sure to scrutinize the site carefully before using the service. When
the seller directs you to an escrow site of their choosing, that's a warning
flag. Don't assume that because a company has a website that it is legitimate.
Call customer service
Call an escrow site's customer service number. Not being able to get a live
person on the phone is a big red flag. If you call and get a fax or a generic
voice mail that says leave a message, than it's probably a scam. Don't use any
escrow service that doesn't list an address or phone number. Get on the
telephone and converse with folks and verify their credentials."
Verify and then trust
If using an on-line escrow company, verify any and all endorsements and
credentials on an online escrow site. Are those really TRUSTe,
Business Bureau and VeriSign
Secure seals on an escrow site? Be sure to check.
Study all licensing information carefully. Contact any licensing
authority listed on the escrow company website and verify that the site is
actually registered. Check this information carefully. Many scam sites have
ripped off the legitimate license numbers from other companies.
You'll also want to check when an escrow site's domain name was
registered. Many scam escrow sites say they've been in business for years but
only have been registered for a few days or weeks. You can use a
"Whois" tool at any domain name registrar, such as
networksolutions.com or godaddy.com, to
Steer clear of escrow sites with sloppy content
A sloppy Web site is probably a scam. Spelling errors, grammar problems,
inconsistent information or broken links are good indicators that an escrow site
is a scam.
Of course, a great website is no guarantee an escrow service is
legitimate. A flashy, flawless escrow site could still be a fake.
No matter how good an escrow site looks, be sure to verify all
claims and content.
How you pay could be a tip off
Take a close look at how an escrow site asks you to pay. If an escrow site asks
you to make a payment to an individual or agent rather than a corporate
identity, it's a scam. A legitimate escrow service will never ask you to send
your money or your product to the other party.
Beware of escrow sites that use person-to-person money transfers
such as Western Union and MoneyGram. Western Union is not affiliated with any
An escrow company on the up and up will ask you to wire money
from your bank to their bank. They'll provide you with a routing number and
If you wire money to an escrow service, ask your bank to tell
you where the wire transfer is being sent.
Do a search
Search for the escrow site on Google, Yahoo, or another search engine. If your
search turns up zero results, be wary. If your search turns up consumer
complaints about the escrow site, avoid doing business with the site. Again,
just because the site does show up is not guarantee that it is legitimate.
Be wary of "safe" and "secure" online
Scammers love to use those words "safe" or "secure" when
naming scam sites. A dash in an escrow company's name, such as
secure-escrow.com, is another red flag. The dash seems to show up in many phony
Avoid escrow sites with Web addresses that end in
"org." A legitimate escrow service would never try to pass itself off
as a nonprofit organization. You'll also want to avoid escrow sites with Web
addresses that end in ".biz", ".cc", ".info" and
Don't be blinded by a super deal
Many phony escrow sites place phony ads on Internet auction and classifieds
sites. These ads promise potential buyers and sellers unbelievably good deals.
If the price on a motorcycle seems to be way under market price
there is a good chance it really doesn't exist. .
Another tip off is when you send an e-mail to a buyer or seller
and you get a scripted, "Dear Sir" response, referring you to an
escrow site that they've used many times.
And if a seller offers to pay shipping and insurance on a really
big item, that's another red flag that the deal may not be on the up and up.
Watch out for copycat sites
Many scammers copy the content of real Escrow sites. These sites may use a
similar name or domain mane to confuse you. Make sure you are on the correct
site. Call the customer service and verify. Watch out for companies that claim
to be "affiliated" with legitimate company. Don't use an
"affiliate." Use the real company.
Watch out for fake e-mail
a look at this e-mail. (click on the image at the left to enlarge) This is an
actual e-mail sent by a scammer. He tried to pass it off as coming from
"Square Trade" as an escrow service. First of all "Square
Trade" is not an escrow service. Look closely at the e-mail. You'll notice
it looks rather official looking. The scammer tries to make it look like you are
sending your money to safe location. It even displays a "Trust-e" seal
to make you believe it is secure. Look at the payment information. "Square
Trade" is not the recipient. The instructions are actually telling
you to send the money directly to the scammer. In this case knowing that
"Square Trade" is not an escrow company is a dead giveaway, but
similar e-mails could be sent pretending to be real escrow companies. Always
contact the escrow company directly.
Note: TRUSTe® is an independent, nonprofit
enabling trust based on privacy for personal information on the internet. The
Trust-e logo shown on the e-mail sample was placed there by the scammer. We
duplicated the logo along with the e-mail to show how scammers misuse the logo.
It is not meant to signify that lets-ride.com is associated in any way with
www.CarBuyingTips.com have long lists
of known escrow fraud sites on their Web sites. www.CarBuyingTips.com
lists screen shots of common escrow scams.
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