Call customer service. Reaching a recording or fax number rather than a live person should raise a red flag for a potential scam.
Look at the language. Other warning signs include generic e-mails from the escrow company, such as those beginning with “Dear sir” rather than your name; misspellings and poor grammar (which usually indicate a foreign-based scam); or overuse of words such as “safe” and “secure.”
Escrow. com has more tips on spotting a fraudulent escrow company website. If you’ve fallen victim to an online car transaction scam, report it to your state attorney general.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of "Scam-Proof Your Life" (AARP Books/Sterling).