If you run into a problem, try to work it out directly with the buyer or seller or with the auction website. If that does not work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by calling toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357) or visiting the FTC's website. Although the Commission cannot resolve individual problems for consumers, it can act against a company if it sees a pattern of possible law violations. You also may want to contact your state Attorney General or your local consumer protection office.
Boulder, Colo., police started using PropertyRoom.com in 2007, mainly to unload property that couldn't be traced back to the owners. Before items are put up for auction, they are posted on the police department’s Web site for four weeks. Previously, the department had been stuck holding onto items for up to three years, said spokeswoman Sarah Huntley.
Do your research. Check Kelly Blue Book for the proper price for the vehicle, including its mileage and apparent condition. Always downgrade the condition by one ranking for government auctions. Also, do some smart used-car research, such as checking Consumer Reports for reliability and the frequencies of particular repairs, and checking our road test information if it's a recent model vehicle.