5 Tips To Avoid Common Car Scams

It's unfortunate that motorists are prime targets for scammers and criminals and these tips to avoid common car scams will be helpful.

While it is easy to be judgemental of someone who was fallen victim to a car scam, you need to understand that criminals are becoming increasingly clever and sophisticated.

The bottom line when buying a used car is that if the deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

Let's take a look at the five most common car scams in the US and UK today.

Virtual vehicle scam

Unfortunately, the virtual vehicle scam is probably the most popular car scam currently in play.

Basically, the scammer will advertise a used car for sale, usually using a cloned advert from elsewhere, because they don’t have a car to sell.

Beware of an advert with a popular choice of car that has slightly lower than average mileage and a low price.

The issue here is that when you carry out a vehicle check, the details may have been cloned so the car will pass the test.

The scammer will be unavailable to speak to and will ask for a sizeable holding deposit to be paid.

Not only will they disappear with your cash but having your bank or card details means they can empty your account too.

Fake mileage scam

While it's harder to clone modern cars, there are growing numbers of cases with cars with a mileage discrepancy.

Essentially, the scammer will lower the car's mileage to boost its value – and it's probably the oldest scam in the book.

In older cars, the scammer will remove the instrument binnacle and physically alter the odometer or use software on modern cars to lower the mileage.

A vehicle history check from https://www.instantregcheck.co.uk/ will confirm the car's mileage plus the car may have a full-service history so check the service book has been stamped which will have a mileage displayed.

Questionable buying scam

When you advertise a car for sale, you may be targeted by a questionable buying scam.

This is usually a buyer who claims they are desperate to buy your car and is willing to transfer the money immediately using an online payment service.

They do this and say they are working overseas and are too busy to pick up the car – instead, they will get a ‘friend’ to do this for them.

After transferring the money, often using a stolen credit card and using a bogus payment account, they will claim to have overpaid accidentally.

They then demand a refund, and the seller will then oblige with a repayment, but the buyer will also reclaim their money from the payment provider.

That means you lose out both ways.

Car cloning scam

One particular scam that used car buyers need to be aware of, is when dealing with a cloned car.

That's when a criminal is disguising a car’s identity by cloning it with a legitimate car.

They will swap the number plates and forge the registration document, and some will even change the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Again, the car’s history check will reveal its colour, the first registration and engine size.

You must check the car registration document, any service history and whether the number plates have been tampered with.

Doing this means you will not lose money, but the car will not be seized by the police as a stolen vehicle.

avoid car scam

Dealers posing as private sellers

There's a big issue with car dealers posing as a private seller and this is a scam because the dealer is trying to dodge their legal obligations.

Under the law, a dealer must tell you about any of the car's faults and offer a three-month warranty.

When buying a car privately, the seller doesn’t have to do any of these things, but they cannot lie about the car’s condition under the Sale of Goods Act https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/54 in the UK and in the US the FTC have similar protection https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0055-buying-used-car.

Essentially, you need to be aware that should the seller want to meet somewhere neutral, for example, in a supermarket car park then alarm bells should be ringing.

Any seller unwilling to meet you at their home to show you their car should be treated with suspicion.

Also, the vehicle history data check may not reveal the dealer as being the last keeper and the car’s service record and history may display some inconsistencies.

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for innovatecar.com and other auto blogs