Research from Google has shown that 74% of people in the UK now use the internet to find their next used car. While shopping around online is a great way to get the best possible price for the model of car that you want, it also exposes car buyers to a series of new risks. Here are some good ways to make sure that you aren’t ripped off when buying a car online:
1. Be extremely wary if the seller tells you that their car is in a crate and can’t be viewed. This is a common tactic employed by con artists, who copy the details of a car from a recent online advert, then put up a fake advert on a sales or listings site. You should always try to view the car before you buy.
2. It should concern you if the seller wants payment by anonymous wire transfer rather than by a traceable method such as credit card, cheque or an online payment site. Scammers often claim that their non-existent car is covered by some kind of vehicle protection policy that will refund your money if you don’t like the vehicle. Don’t be taken in – there’s no reason not to use a safer method to pay for your purchase.
3. Another form of fraud often found online is ‘cloning’. This involves changing the Vehicle Identification Number on the car for sale to match one from another car already on the road. Fraudsters may even have a stolen V5 and logbook to lend credibility to the vehicle’s new identity. Having a vehicle identity check performed will tell you if the VIN is from a stolen car or a Swiftcover Car Insurance write-off, and is a good way of guarding against this sort of scam.
4. Investigate the market. If you know how much a particular model usually goes for, then you will know when a car is listed for an implausibly rock bottom price. It’s also worth checking the seller’s history on the particular site to see if they have been getting positive feedback from buyers.