Press release

Police forces and Get Safe Online launch campaign to combat fraudulent sales of vehicles online

Checklist for car buyers and sellers launched in partnership with the Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group (VSTAG).

Police forces and Get Safe Online have launched a new campaign today to help people buy and sell vehicles safely online. The campaign promotes two new check lists created by VSTAG, of which Get Safe Online is a member – one for buyers and one for sellers – to stop them getting caught out by fraudsters in an auto fraud scam.

Auto fraud scams happen when unfortunate buyers get tricked into paying deposits or transportation fees for cars, vans or other vehicles that don’t exist, or buying a vehicle without checking its history, only to find out that it’s been written off by a previous owner.

Sellers can get tricked into handing over the keys or documents to a fraudulent buyer based on trust, without checking that there are cleared funds in their account.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online said: “Millions of transactions take place online every day of which only a small fraction are fraudulent but who wants to get caught out by a scammer when you’re dealing with a high value sale such as buying or selling a car? Our checklists created with VSTAG has been designed to help people buy and sell vehicles online safely so the experience from beginning to end is positive. We urge anyone who is thinking of buying or selling online to take the time to read our easy to follow checklist to make sure you don’t become a victim of auto fraud.”

VSTAG Buyers Checklists

  • Paying a deposit: If a deposit is requested or agreed, don’t pay more than you are willing to lose and confirm with the seller that they will refund the deposit if you don’t purchase the vehicle
  • View the vehicle before paying the full amount: We recommend researching the seller as well as their vehicle. Most fraudulent sellers will try to persuade you to transfer money before you’ve even laid eyes on the vehicle. Often, they will insist on communicating only via email rather than on the phone
  • Always check that the price of the vehicle is in line with the market value: If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is: If the vehicle seems ‘too good to be true’, it can be a sign of fraud. Research other similar vehicles or perform a free valuation on Auto Trader. If the vehicle is below market value, beware. Ask the seller questions about its valuation, there may be underlying reasons if the vehicle is under-priced
  • Take the vehicle for a test drive: Be sure to thoroughly inspect any vehicle you are looking to purchase, and take it for a test drive. This should always be done from the seller’s premises or their home; never let the person meet you halfway
  • Always carry out a vehicle history check:?This will tell you if the vehicle is recorded as stolen, written off, scrapped, or is subject to outstanding finance
  • Payment advice Never send money for a vehicle you haven’t seen. Don’t carry large amounts of cash

VSTAG Sellers Checklists

  • Be prepared: Have all the relevant paperwork together, such as the V5C, service history and MOT certificate, for a potential buyer to review. Buyers may wish to check details such as the address on the V5C and the mileage in the most recent MOT certificate. Never let the buyer photograph your documents
  • Beware of scammers: Always meet the buyer. Request?the potential buyer’s contact details, such as their phone number and full home address. Proof of identity such as driving licence is ideal. This should give you further reassurances, and?a legitimate buyer should be happy to provide this information
  • Test drive advice: Make sure you ask the buyer to bring their driving licence and proof of insurance if they want to test drive the vehicle. Check their level of insurance to test drive, this should prevent you being liable for damages
  • Stay on home ground: Always arrange to meet a buyer at your home, never meet halfway or at their premises
  • Never allow a buyer to test drive the vehicle alone: Never leave a potential buyer alone with the vehicle, nor give them the keys. If you have a keyless fob, keep hold of it at all times, even on a test drive. However, never jeopardise your personal safety and if you feel uncomfortable at any time, walk away
  • Payment: Never release the vehicle until you have confirmation that the payment to you is cleared funds. If you accept a cheque or bankers draft for payment, be aware it can take days for these funds to clear 

About Get Safe Online

Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of information and advice on online safety and security, for the public and small businesses. It is a not-for-profit, public/private sector partnership backed by a number

of government departments, law enforcement agencies and leading organisations in internet security, banking and retail.

For more information and impartial advice on protecting yourself, your family, your business, your computer and mobile devices while online visit www.getsafeonline.org

About VSTAG

VSTAG, the Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group, helps protect both buyers and sellers of pre-owned vehicles from fraud during the online vehicle transaction process. Forged from a strong partnership of the UK’s leading online car sales companies and the police, VSTAG members share information of known and suspected fraudulent advertisements – working together to reduce online vehicle crime.

25 hours later &the brilliant #TeamAutoTrader reached Croatia for @TrustFordUK #BreakoutForBen. Congratulations guys & massive well done to everyone involved in this great cause. If you'd like to donate & help raise funds for @BenSupport4Auto just visit: https://t.co/bOlmSpzI1N https://t.co/1SV5VQbUJy
It's been a long night for #TeamAutoTrader on the @TrustFordUK #BreakoutForBen as they try to get as far away as possible for @BenSupport4Auto. But where could they be...and where are they heading 🤔 Keep racking up those miles guys 🚙 https://t.co/p1RmNsY5Uj
And they're off! Border one done for #TeamAutoTrader in this year's @TrustFordUK #BreakoutForBen. Guesses welcome for where they're aiming for...🚗 https://t.co/PWU4eLTaCW
Good luck to everyone taking part in the @TrustFordUK #BreakoutForBen event tonight, especially the brilliant (& brave!) Auto Trader team. We can't wait to see how far everyone can get in 25 hours & how much is raised for the amazing @BenSupport4Auto https://t.co/T67MO99SYN
The latest findings from the Fastest Selling Index reveal that used Euro 6 diesels are bucking the trend seen in the new car market, making up half of the top 10 fastest turners. @SEATUK takes the top spot for fastest selling diesel & petrol. Read more https://t.co/wukyRJIc4y https://t.co/kZIosLwEBQ
With new car sales falling & Sept registrations under performing how do you maximise every opportunity to reach car buyers, generate incremental leads & win in your area of influence?Join our free #ATInsight webinar at 11am Friday to find out.Register here https://t.co/JV1hbWRBFK https://t.co/MTeDLB1fu3
T-minus 10 minutes until our free Market Report webinar, during which we'll be delving into the future of car retailing and the impact (and opportunities) changing consumer attitudes towards online purchase is and will have on the industry. Tune in here https://t.co/11QovV64xq https://t.co/tDQQ1TYR16
"It's essential that the government makes a commitment to outline a clear and beneficial deal in order to ensure our industry has what it needs to secure its future success.” @RMI_NFDA Chairman Peter Johnson at tonight's RMI Annual Dinner https://t.co/mkD6wEi5be
To mark #WorldMentalHealthDay2019 today, @BenSupport4Auto has launched its first ever whitepaper on the topic - one of the biggest issues affecting the industry's workforce & could cost employers up to £1.2bn a year. Download your free copy here: https://t.co/gR9ahHXt8Z https://t.co/5VAoNDLYCt
Well done and massive congratulations to everyone at @BCA_Auctions for winning Auction House of the Year at the @MotorTraderMag #MTIndAwards 2019 🥂🥂🥂 https://t.co/3lk60FsHRw

Auto Trader Group plc
Registered in England (Company number: 09439967)

Auto Trader Limited
Registered in England and Wales (Company number: 03909628)

Registered address:

1 Tony Wilson Place
Manchester
M15 4FN
VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

Keep in touch

We use social media to speak to the UK’s largest car buying audience