The Best Defense if you respond to an ad for auction guide:

  1. Avoid giving your bank account or credit card number to a company representative who says it's necessary for verification or credit.
  2. Recognize that seized vehicles often are sold at government auctions, but rarely at the bargain prices quoted in some ads. Expect to pay what the vehicle is worth and to compete against other bidders, included used car dealers.
  3. Be aware that foreclosed homes often are sold for slightly less than their appraised values, but may require substantial repairs.
  4. Recognize that the auction guide company isn't the only source for the information you want. Contact individual government agencies for information about their sales programs. Ask to be put on a mailing list to be notified of upcoming sales. Some government sales programs advertise in the media, on the Internet or through postings in government buildings.
  5. Get the name and location of the company and check it out with the local Better Business Bureau or state Attorney General.
  6. Get a written copy of the return policy before you pay for an auction guide or list of foreclosed homes. Some fraudulent sellers of auction guides give consumers the impression that refunds are no problem. But often, the businesses put so many conditions on refunds that few consumers ever get them.
  7. Use your credit card to pay for an auction guide. It offers more protections than other payment methods if you have a problem with the purchase.