Your security and safety are important to us at Vancamper. We'll preface this article by saying the vast majority of people who use Vancamper are good-natured, honest and trust-worthy.
However, if you come across someone who tries to scam you, or shares inappropriate/abusive content, report it to our team immediately. You can do this by clicking the flag icon in the top right of a listing or when using Vancamper's messaging system.
If you would like to provide us more details about the situation, please contact our support team.
Most scams in online marketplaces and classified sites happen over anonymous communication tools such as e-mail, SMS or in-app messaging. In these scenarios, either the buyer/seller creates a fake account on the platform and pretends to be someone they are not.
Whilst in-person scams do happen, they are far less common. Most of these scams tend to affect buyers more - for example, that feeling of being "ripped off" when you buy a lemon vehicle or realise you've massively over-paid for something.
We'll start this guide by focusing on some general safety tips which can help you stay safe on Vancamper and other marketplaces online. We'll then cover how to spot some common tactics scammers use and wrap up with some tips specifically for buyers and sellers.
The three simple rules for staying safe
Fortunately, the vast majority of scams and unpleasant situations can be avoided by practicing these 3 simple rules:
- Deal locally, face to face. Handle payment/key exchange in person. Do this and 99% of scams can be avoided.
- Protect your personal/financial information. Never share this information with another person over chat. This includes:
- Your address, driver's license, identity cards or social security.
- Financial information (e.g. bank account numbers, credit cards, logins to online payment services).
- Verification codes (e.g. to Google Voice). You can read more about this type of scam here.
- Usernames, passwords or account information to Vancamper or other sites.
- Our team will never ask you for this information. Anyone asking for this information is a scammer.
- Use the Vancamper messaging system. It's safe, secure and offers you better protection than personal communication methods such as e-mail, SMS or WhatsApp.
Note: Verifying the identity of a buyer/seller is an important step when buying a campervan, but don't share identity documents over the Internet. Typically, this should be done in person once you have established trust with the buyer/seller.
Messaging safety tips
Vancamper includes its own secure messaging system for communicating between buyers/sellers. You do not need to hand out personal information such as your e-mail address to communicate on our platform.
You can protect yourself by looking out for these suspicious behaviors:
Someone asks you to message them outside the app
Be wary of people that try to get you to communicate via other methods such as e-mail, SMS or WhatsApp. Scammers often do this because these systems are unmonitored, which makes it easier to conduct scams, share links to harmful websites or attach malicious files such as viruses/malware.
If this happens, politely decline and tell the person you'd rather stick to chatting using the Vancamper messaging system. If you suspect the other person is trying to scam you, report them to our team immediately.
Someone asks for your address to send a cashier's check
In this scenario, the scammer (normally very willingly) asks for your home address and promises to send you a check to pay for the vehicle, which turns out to be more than your asking price. They'll then ask you to refund them the difference. Once that's done, you'll never hear from them again.
Remember: real buyers will never offer you money without seeing the vehicle in person. Don't hand out your home address to strangers - it can easily be used for spam mail or to clone your identity.
Someone asks you for a verification code
Our team will never ask you for a verification code over chat. This includes verification codes for Vancamper or other services such as Google Voice.
If anyone asks you for a verification code, report them immediately and move on.
Someone sends you a link to another website
Sharing website links with other people is something most of us do on a daily basis. However, most of the people we chat with are our friends and family who we trust.
When talking with someone you do not know, always be wary of links to other websites they share. In general, if you do not recognise the website, do not click on the link. If someone sends you a link which requires you to log in - don't do it.
Note: There are some legitimate times you might be shared a link by someone - e.g. if they want to share a video with you. In situations like this, just ensure the link is to a reputable website, such as YouTube, Vimeo or Google Photos.
Tips for communicating and meeting locally
We recommend first getting to know the person over our built-in chat. Remember to practice the 3 simple rules for staying safe:
- Deal locally (handle payment/key exchange in person)
- Don't hand out sensitive personal/financial information
- Stick to using Vancamper's messaging system
If the person feels like a good fit, we recommend talking to them before meeting locally.
The safest approach here is to schedule a video call using a service like Zoom. You don't need to hand over your personal contact information and in general most scammers will not agree to this (the last thing they want is to reveal their real identity).
Alternatively, if you feel OK sharing your cell phone number at this point, a phone call also works.
If the call goes well and you trust the other person, you'll probably want to then meet up in-person. Here are some tips for safer meetups:
- Meet during the day, in a well-lit, public space with other people around. Try to pick somewhere away from your home or where your campervan is normally parked. Areas covered by surveillance cameras offer added protection.
- Do not give out your home address or invite strangers to your home.
- Bring a friend (or two) and tell others where you are meeting.
- Take your cell phone along with you.
Extra tips for buyers
- Don't buy a campervan based upon photos/videos alone. Check out the campervan in person!
- Do your market research to avoid overpaying for a campervan. Be wary of vehicles which are priced way under market value.
- If you are not a car person or unfamiliar with the RV amenities found in campervans, have the vehicle inspected by a professional before purchasing it. Pre-purchase inspections are not a guarantee that the vehicle is entirely problem-free, but they help catch a lot of common issues found in used vehicles.
- Test drive the campervan before buying it - including getting up to freeway speeds. Don't have music playing or the windows open when doing this - you'll want to listen out for any mechanical issues!
- Test every RV amenity of the campervan. If you are unfamiliar with these types of systems (e.g. gas, electrics, solar), bring a friend who is or pay for an RV inspection.
- Run a VIN report before buying the campervan. This will let you know more about the vehicle, including the owner history or whether it was ever involved in an accident or stolen.
- Verify the title of the vehicle. Make sure it is valid and belongs to the person who is selling you the vehicle.
- Do not use money transfer services like Western Union for paying for a vehicle. Be cautious if a seller insists on using this as a payment method.
- If you are using an escrow service, make sure it's reputable - and visit the site directly, not via a link that was shared with you.
Extra tips for sellers
- Unless you are experienced in shipping vehicles, dealing locally is almost always safer and easier.
- Be very cautious of buyers who seem very willing to purchase or offer money without meeting in person. Legitimate buyers will often have a lot of very specific questions about the camper and will want to see the vehicle in person first before getting into the specifics of money.
- Don't hand over the vehicle or title until you have confirmed you've received the entire amount you asked for.
- Be wary of overpayment or non-standard payment methods. A classic scam involves a buyer sending you a check for more than the sale price - and then requesting you refund the difference.
- Be wary of proposals to make a payment through a friend, 3rd party or broker. The safest approach is to handle the transaction with the buyer themselves in-person.
How to report scams/fraud
- File a report at: Internet Fraud Complaint Center
- You can report people by clicking the Flag in the top right corner of the Vancamper chat. If you would like to provide us with more information, contact our support team.