Home > Automotive Scams > Used Car Scam

Used Car Scam

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 16 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Used Car Used Car Scams Buying A Used

A car is a major purchase, whether it's new or used. But every purchase can have its problems and none more so than buying a previously-owned vehicle. It's a market that's wide open to scammers - statistics show that used car buyers have a one in three chance of buying a vehicle that's subject to fraud. But with some care you can avoid them and find the car of your dreams.

The Things Scammers Do

  • Selling a car that's been repaired after an accident. The frame might be bent then re-straightened, or any number of faults could be covered. Obviously, they're not about to tell you - they simply want to sell the car. Buy it and you could be riding a death trap.
  • Selling stolen vehicles. Only two-thirds of cars stolen each year are recovered. Many stolen cars are re-sold. If you've bought one and the police find it, they'll take it. In theory you can pursue the seller for your money - but what are the odds of finding him?
  • Selling a car that's not paid for yet. If you knew about the debt, then the finance company can take the car from you. You can keep it if you didn't know - but how do you prove it?

How to Avoid the Scam

  • Make sure the seller can produce all the proper documentation, and that the car has a VIN number (you'll usually find it in the engine compartment and also the bodywork).
  • Remember that cars more than three years old must have MOT certificates. Check it, and compare the mileage with the odometer.
  • Always ask to see a seller's proof of identity. If it's a private sale, look at their insurance policy.
  • Find out about the vehicle's history before you buy. The AA or the HPI can tell you.
  • Have the vehicle checked. If you belong to a motoring organisation, they'll do that for a fee, or you can bring in your own mechanic.
  • Never buy from anyone who's selling a car in a motorway service area - that's asking for trouble. If possible, go to the seller's house.
  • Watch out for ads where dealers pretend to be private sellers. Not only are they trying to dodge some legal obligations, it's probably a car they can't sell otherwise.

What To Do If You're Scammed

Is the vehicle "as described"? That, unfortunately, is the limit of your legal protection in a private sale. If the car isn't as described, you can sue the seller - which is why it's good to know his address. Beware, though: If you buy a car that breaks down the minute you get it home, you might be stuck - unless for instance, the owner claimed it had just passed its MOT when it quite clearly would have failed.

Try and resolve any problems directly with the seller. If you can't and it's a private sale, you can sue in County Court. If the amount of the sale is less than £5,000, use small claims court. If the amount is higher, consider independent arbitration - most motoring organisations offer it.

If you bought the car from a dealer, you can contact the appropriate trade associations - find out which he belongs to. Or you can contact Trading Standards.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • JohnG
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Had a call from 01582544397 saying it was Sky TV and that our current box was to be upgraded free of charge and when I said I didn't want to our…
    19 October 2019
  • Mickyladd
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    I received a text msg stating that I had a refund of £1.12 and to click on the link provided which would take me to the sky team to confirm my bank…
    12 September 2019
  • Bally
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a phone call from sky saying our 1 year anniversary with them was approaching, had a lovely gentlemen speak to me telling me all the things I…
    28 August 2019
  • Ickle
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a person called Jane with an Indian accent that my sky cover was due to run out, and that there is 3 packages with a some of money…
    28 August 2019
  • Malice
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had some one telling me that my Sky contact was ending and she can help me set a new one up. Told her that I didn't know what she was talking about…
    26 August 2019
  • linxu
    Re: Vishing Scam
    if i only have fee to pay card reference number,can I pay online? Because I can only provide accurate payment reference number and amounts, the address…
    25 July 2019
  • Angry666
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call. . I asked for his name. Location ID and what department. . He hung up. . 0114 number. Reported to sky. But they ain't interested.…
    19 July 2019
  • John
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had call from and ethnic man named Joseph. Refund on my Sky account asking DOB gave completely wrong one he took it. Then asked for expiry date on…
    25 June 2019
  • Cadbury
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Call from " sky". My breakdown ! First clue GOOD AFTERNOON It was 11 am Cover is ending. Buy now £150 for two years. Cannot pay direct debit. But one…
    18 June 2019
  • jacques73
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a person named Kelly who said she was from Sky maintenance and that my cover was about to expire. Said they were doing a deal on…
    30 May 2019