According to Metro Bank, there has been a rise in purchase scams around car sales, finance and leasing, especially as new number plates launch in September. Purchase scams can take many forms, but the release of new car licence plates drives an increase in scams around the sale and finance/leasing of vehicles as this is a key buying month for UK drivers.
Criminals will entice drivers with best deal offers often advertised on auction sites, such as eBay and Gumtree, or via social media.
In reality, these best deal cars do not exist; the criminals steal the images from genuine sellers to convince potential buyers that they have the vehicle.
Sometimes criminals may use cloned websites with slight changes to the URL to trick buyers into thinking they are purchasing from a genuine website.
Buyers are not the only ones being duped as drivers looking to lease/finance a vehicle are also targeted.
“Investing in a car is a significant spend and thieves target these purchases because of the amounts of money involved.
“We definitely see an uplift in this type of fraud around the issue of new car licence plates and advise anyone not buying a car from a reputable dealer during these periods to be extra cautious before purchasing.”
Metro Bank advises drivers to beware for deals that look too good to be true, because oftentimes, they are.
Deals advertised over social media that are considerably cheaper than market average should also be a red flag, especially if it is a new business or website.
Being approached out of the blue with a great deal is also a good sign that drivers may be getting scammed.
When at the point of purchase, prospective buyers should be cautious, especially when being pressured to make a quick decision or being offered financing without any credit of affordability checks being done.
Oftentimes, scammers will ask for payment methods such as bank transfer only, which should be a sign that something may not be correct.
Potential customers should make any payments via a secure online payment platform and should avoid any other form of payment as there may be no protection.
Metro Bank advises drivers to request to see the vehicle in person, or if that is not possible, over a video call before paying any more – even a deposit.
With low level scams, there may be grammatical errors as well as poor formatting in their correspondence or advertisements.
Drivers can get a full vehicle history check for peace of mind through the Government website.
They can also ask for details about the car such as the vehicle identification number (VIN) and check if this information matches the V5 document.
The seller or company’s independent reviews should also be checked before making any payments or arranging deposits.
One final check that road users can make is to ensure the seller is using genuine contact information, such as a proper email address, relating to the purchase or lease of a car.