Most common car scams and how to avoid them

Over the years, criminals have devised various car scams to con motorists out of their hard-earned money. To help you stay vigilant, here are some of the most common car scams and tips on how to avoid falling victim to them.

Fake Car Sales Websites 

Did you know that scammers often create fake car sales websites for non-existent dealerships. These sites feature incredibly cheap cars to entice buyers.  

Criminals populate these sites with genuine car photos and information, offering vehicles at steep discounts (sometimes half the usual price). When buyers express interest, they are encouraged to pay upfront to secure the deal. However, once payment is made, the cars are never delivered, and the fake dealer disappears. 

The best thing you can do, is if a deal seems too good to be true, it might be. According to WhatCar? It’s best to investigate the seller and verify their legitimacy before making any payments.  

Fake Insurance Policies and Ghost Brokers 

Another one to be aware of is that scammers pose as insurance brokers, offering cheap policies that turn out to be fake or invalid. It’s always a good idea to verify the legitimacy of insurance providers and brokers. 

The best thing you can do to avoid falling victim is to verify contact details and stick to authentic channels for car insurance.  

Check for authorisation, and you can always visit the Financial Conduct Authority’s website to verify whether a broker is authorized. If they aren’t authorized, steer clear. 

You can always double-check your coverage too after using a broker. You can always get in touch with the company they’ve recommended to ensure your car is genuinely insured. Remember, if you’re not insured, the potential financial loss outweighs any savings from using that broker. 

One that seems obvious too is to seek advice from friends and family members when making any insurance decisions that can always help too. 

Fake DVLA Scams 

Fraudsters do like a good DVLA scam and there’s quite a few they could choose from. For example, from sending phishing emails and texts to fake driving licenses or misleading third-party websites.  

Scammers send fraudulent emails or texts claiming to be from the DVLA. These messages may ask you to verify your driving license details, offer vehicle tax refunds, or highlight a failed vehicle tax payment. If you receive an unexpected email or text from the DVLA, exercise caution. If you do notice anything suspicious, you can always report to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) or report fraudulent texts to your network provider. 

Just a heads up to be cautious and verify such communications directly through official channels, is always a good idea. Better to be safe than sorry. If you do suspect a scam, you can report it to the Policy via Action Fraud.  

Scammers are becoming more persistent, but with vigilance, you can protect yourself and others from falling victim to their tricks. 

Dodgy Mechanics 

While most mechanics are honest professionals, there are a few bad apples who employ underhanded tactics. Unqualified or unlicensed mechanics may overcharge for repairs or perform subpar work or perhaps they find extra faults, or they charge for parts that haven’t been replaced. 

If it seems excessively high, verify online or with the dealer to ensure it’s reasonable. Being informed helps prevent overcharging, says the RAC

It’s always good to familiarize yourself with basic car components and their locations. If you suspect foul play, ask for evidence or a detailed breakdown of the work done

Remember that being informed and seeking trustworthy garages can protect you from falling victim to these scams and ask for recommendations. If you’re ever unsure, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion or explore reputable service providers. 

Accident Scams 

Crash for cash scams are orchestrated by fraudsters who deliberately cause accidents to profit from fraudulent insurance claims. Criminals stage accidents or exaggerate minor incidents to claim insurance payouts.  

According to ABI, the goal is to create a situation where they can make fraudulent insurance claims, with criminals crashing their own vehicles together or mimic damage from a genuine collision. 

Fraudsters also have another one where they target innocent motorists to become the “at fault driver.”For example, they might deliberately slam on their brakes, causing the car behind them to crash into their vehicle.The innocent driver becomes the scapegoat for the staged accident

Finally, there is what we call ‘Ghost Accidents’, where fraudsters submit completely fabricated claims for accidents that never actually took place. Can you believe it? These accidents exist only on paper, with fake eyewitness accounts and false details, says WhatCar?

The best way you can protect yourself is by being vigilant on the road. Watch out for unusually slow-moving vehicles or erratic behavior from drivers in front of you. Maintain a safe distance and stay alert. 

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