Updated: 20 November, 2020
Motorists are under siege from con artists who have dreamed up a whole raft of motoring scams — some engineered to prey on victims’ concerns about Covid-19 and lockdown social distancing restrictions — that could cost you thousands of pounds.
The team at Adrian Flux, the independent insurance broker that stands up for the little guy and helps you save money, has outlined some of the motoring scams you should be looking out for and provides tips on how to avoid them.
Motoring scam 1: Fake car sales
Fake listings copied from real car sale adverts are used to attract buyers, citing coronavirus restrictions as the reason the car can’t be viewed in person.
The fraudsters offer to deliver the car once money has been deposited in a holding account, assuring the buyer the cash will not be released until they have seen the car and agreed the purchase.
Victims are often lured by too good to be true deals and hand over large deposits to secure the vehicle. The fraudster banks the money, leaving their victim with nothing.
Motoring scam 2: Vehicle matching
Fraudsters cold-call someone advertising a car for private sale, claiming they have an immediate buyer. They then request an upfront introduction fee, which is refundable if the car does not sell. The car is not sold but the refund is never repaid.
Motoring scam 3: Crash for cash
In crash for cash scams criminals deliberately crash into the vehicles of law abiding motorists or submit false claims for accidents.
They aim to make as much money as possible from exaggerated insurance claims. The proceeds are often used to fund more accidents or even more serious crimes.
There are three basic scenarios for a crash for cash motoring scam:
- Fraudsters crash two of their own vehicles together, or deliberately damage a car to replicate the effects of a crash.
- A fraudster makes an emergency stop for no reason to force the car behind to crash into them.
- Fraudsters report a “ghost accident” and make a false claim for damages as a result of an accident that never even occurred.
As well as putting the lives of innocent people in danger, this sort of motoring scam is criminal fraud and it costs the UK £340 million a year.
Motoring scam 4: Fake claims management firms
The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB), City of London Police Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department and the Association of British Insurers have all warned about the increased activity of fake motor insurance claims management companies.
The IFB alone received 300 reports of click-to-call advertisers posing as insurance firms to scam car crash victims. But it is feared the figures could just be scratching the surface of a problem that doesn’t look like iot is going away any day soon.
According to the IFB, motorists could be scammed when they search online for their insurers’ contact details after a crash. Experts say click-to-call ad results will appear which will seem to show their insurance provider’s contact information but these will be adverts paid for by dodgy firms posing as the insurer to collect customer information.
Road users can avoid being caught by this motoring scam by taking extra caution when searching for insurers’ details. They urged motorists to check the website address and URL to ensure it is a legitimate website before using any contact details.
Better still, motorists should keep a copy of their car insurance policy documentation in a safe place as this will include an up-to-date claim line for your insurer. Claim lines for Adrian Flux policies are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Motoring scam 5: DVLA phishing messages
Scammers often pose as the DVLA to try to trick car owners into handing over money, banking details or personal information. They use a variety of methods in this motoring scam but most commonly they make initial contact through text of email.
This should spark concern immediately because the DVLA never sends texts or emails which ask you to confirm personal information or payment details via a link. If you get such a text of email, don’t open any links and delete it immediately.
The DVLA saw 1,538 reports of attempted fraud made to it in the last three months of 2019, up from 1,275 in the same period in 2018.
There are a number of reported DVLA text scams
The DVLA final request text scam: This motoring scam usually comes by way of a message written in capitals to stress the urgency of swift action. The message could read “ACTION REQUIRED” or “FINAL REQUEST” along with a link.
DVLA vehicle tax refund scam: This message advises you about an outstanding vehicle tax refund and usually includes the amount you’re supposedly owed and a link for you to make a claim. Of course, it’s another motoring scam.
The DVLA needs to contact you: This message tells you the DVLA has been trying to contact you and that your action is required, along with a link which will aim to illicit your personal details.
DVLA failed payment: This motoring scam often comes with a subject “Your latest vehicle tax failed” with an ID number. The body of the email will suggest your latest vehicle tax failed to be processed because your billing details have changed or expired. The emails look official because it says the DVLA will automatically try to bill you in five working days and prompts you to follow a link where you can update your details. It will also threaten a fine of up to £1,000 if you don’t pay on time.
DVLA not up-to-date with vehicle tax: The body of the message will say that according to their records, you’re not up to date with your tax and include a warning about “unpleasant consequences” if you don’t pay and a bogus link to do so. It’s yet another DVLA motoring scam.
A spokesman for the DVLA said: “We don’t send emails or text messages with links, so if you get one from someone pretending to be from the DVLA you should report it to Action Fraud then delete it immediately.”
A spokesperson for Action Fraud said: “You should always be cautious when sharing personal information online and avoid being scammed by only using GOV.UK for government services online, such as the DVLA. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please report it to us.”
Motoring scam 6: Ghost insurance brokers
Ghost broking is another motoring scam which generally targets young drivers. Ghost broking is the selling of fraudulent car insurance using three basic methods: they either forge insurance documents, falsify details to bring the policy price down or take out a genuine policy, before cancelling and claiming the refund plus the victim’s money.
From November 2014 to July 2018, the majority of reports received by Action Fraud have come from victims aged 17-24. The reported losses for these victims total £164, 993, with individuals losing on average £912.
A spokesman at Adrian Flux insurance services said the threat posed by ghost brokers illustrates the importance of going to a reputable motor insurance company for guaranteed cover that can provide true peace of mind.
But, even if you are a young driver, there is no need to cut corners and risk being conned when trying to save money on a policy.
Adrian Flux policies for younger drivers are already amazingly cheap, and you could save even more money if you follow some simple tips for getting the best possible premiums. For younger drivers that could mean a saving of hundreds, or even thousands of pounds.
Fraud or cyber crime can be reported to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm).