While most drivers head to local dealerships in search for a new or used car, there has been a dramatic increase in people turning to online shopping when purchasing their vehicles. Unfortunately, fraudsters are also on the prowl, looking for car shoppers to take advantage of.
In Derbyshire, we have seen an increase in individuals transferring money for a vehicle or deposit, only to find upon arrival when picking up their new wheels, that the car or address given does not actually exist or contact stops after the funds have been transferred.
Here are some tips to help you avoid getting scammed when shopping online:
☑️ Use reputable websites
The internet is full of websites selling cars and more people are turning to sites such as Gumtree, Facebook and Ebay when shopping for a car.
Not only could you end up with having a car that is in bad shape, but there are scammers ready to steal your money and you might not have consumer protection if it all goes wrong.
💳 Never send money without meeting
Many scammers will ask for money upfront, and plenty of people are happy to transfer their funds just based on the promise of their dream car.
The fraudster might ask for a wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card before meeting, stating it is for a deposit.
A seller should be OK meeting first before making the sale or transferring any money.
📷 Don’t always believe the picture you see
Don’t believe everything you see. Remember, that photos can be edited, the car may look pristine on the outside, but it doesn't necessarily mean that everything is in good working order under the bonnet. When possible, try and get the car checked out by a trained mechanic.
🔒 Only use sites with secure transactions
Make sure you're shopping for cars on sites with secure transactions. Unsecured sites leave computers vulnerable to attacks, which could give access to your personal or financial information.
We recommend that you always read reviews to check the quality of a site or business prior to making a purchase.
💻 Use secure and traceable payments
Along with using sites with secure transactions, it’s always smart to use a form of secure and traceable payment. Never use wire transfers, prepaid credit cards, or non-traditional payment methods.
Please note: PayPal friends and family does not offer payment protection without the goods and services option being selected.
👨👩 Don’t share personal information
Whether buying or selling a car, be wary of sharing personal information. This includes not revealing banking and credit card information, insurance numbers or personal information - such as your date of birth.
😓 Stay calm under pressure
If a deal looks too good to be true, then it most likely is! Scammers may try and make you feel like you need to act immediately or miss out on a good deal. High-pressure tactics can make a buyer act irrationally and hand over cash or potentially give out information they shouldn’t.
What to do if things go wrong
We all make mistakes and these days the scams can be incredibly convincing. If you think you, or someone you know, has been a victim of online fraud:
- In the first instance, contact your bank to report that fraud has taken place and follow their advice.
- Report the offence to Action Fraud via their website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.
If you need to seek further advice you can contact us via one of the following methods:
- Facebook: send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
- Twitter: direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact
- Website: complete the online contact form www.derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
- Phone: call us on 101.