Motoring scams – March 2022

There are lots of transactions that need to be set up when buying a vehicle and keeping it on the road. These provide opportunities for fraudsters to scam drivers out of their money. Total Car Check covers five current scams prevalent in March 2022 that car buyers and motorists should be vigilant of:

Vehicle tax status unpaid

The DVLA has recently issued a tweet warning of a road tax phishing scam that has affected many drivers. An e-mail is sent stating that the recipient has not paid their road tax and that their bank has declined recent payments. The e-mail asks for the payment details to be updated by clicking on a button. The message also warns of a significant fine if vehicle tax is unpaid. After new bank details are provided scammers take funds from the unsuspecting victim.

Protecting against the scam

If you receive a similar e-mail then there is likely to be no issue with your payments in the first place. Firstly do not click on any links. Check your bank account to see if payments for vehicle excise duty have been taken in the last month. If not, as the message suggests, then contact the DVLA. Government and businesses will not usually ask you to change your payment details by clicking a link on an e-mail.

Fake motor insurance deals

There are a number of ‘ghost brokers’ that are advertising cheap motor insurance policies online and on social media. You run through the usual steps to set up cover online and at the end of the process you think you have a legitimate insurance certificate in place. But a few days later the police pull you over and say you are not covered. Why? The policy is fake and the broker doesn’t really exist (hence the term ‘ghost’), or at least they are not a legitimate firm regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and not qualified to provide cover. You could get fined for not having insurance in place and will also lose the funds you’ve paid.

Protecting against the scam

  • Avoid clicking through on ‘too good to be true’ adverts that pop up on Facebook, Twitter, social media and web pages.
  • Be wary of any insurer or broker that only gives you the option to pay a lump sum annual payment for the policy – almost all insurers give you the option to set up credit and pay monthly.
  • Use insurance comparison websites or search for cover with reputable providers. To find a legitimate insurer or broker have a look on the Association of British Insurers (ABI) member list or British Insurance Brokers Association website.

Facebook car sales

Facebook marketplace is a very handy tool for sellers and free to use. Unfortunately it has also been used as a platform by criminals. The fraudulent seller will strike up a conversation using messenger and request an up front payment for the vehicle and delivery. But after a payment is made the vehicle is not delivered and the seller does not respond. The seller’s profile may have disappeared within days, only for them to set up a new profile and start the process again (with fake photo of course). It is very likely that the car is not even for sale too – it’s probably a picture taken from another website.

Protecting against the scam

Never pay any funds towards a vehicle until you have access to the keys! We recommend that even if you are buying through a legitimate private seller or retailer then you should always arrange a viewing first. If a seller is putting pressure on you to pay a deposit or the full amount based simply on a few images then it will be a scam.

Faulty vehicle scam

This scam is important for anyone that is selling a vehicle. There have been recent instances of criminal gang members turning up to view cars only to add engine oil to the water reservoir, letting the air out of tyres or damaging the vehicle in other ways. Why? This approach is used to to haggle with the buyer requesting a disproportionate price reduction. This activity has been targeted towards retailers as well as private sellers. Once in possession of the vehicle the criminals will then sell on to make a profit.

Protecting against the scam

Keep your eyes peeled on any person that looks to view a vehicle you are selling, unless they are well known to you. Stay with the buyer throughout and have all the documents and a pen available so there is no reason for you to go back inside your home to grab anything.

Fake driving licences

Learner drivers are having to wait a long time currently before they can take their driving test due to the Covid-19 backlog. Fraudsters have capitalised on this by offering fake driving licences for a significant sum. Those that buy the fake licences lose their funds and receive no licence.

Protecting against the scam

The obvious answer here is that if you know something is not legitimate then don’t buy it! There is only one way to obtain a driving licence in the UK and that is by taking your driving test and applying for a full licence through the DVLA. Even if you did get a fake licence you would be breaking the law.

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