If you’re considering buying a used van, my first suggestion is that you should check whether it might be cheaper to rent! With used van prices at record highs, this isn’t as daft as it might sound.
However, my mission today is to flag up three ‘popular’ online scams being used to target used van buyers this summer.
According to Mike Bailey at CDL Vehicle Information Systems (who run mycarcheck.com), the number of online scams targeting used vehicle buyers is “off the chart this summer”.
A typical scam is designed to get you to pay out money without receiving a vehicle. It’s usually very hard to get any redress, so your cash is often lost forever. According to CDL, fraudsters will often setup fake dealer websites with stock that looks genuine and other convincing details.
However, the good news is that most of these scams fit three common patterns. They’re quite easy to spot if you know what to look for. Here’s what you need to know:
- It’s too cheap. If a van (or any other vehicle) is being sold much more cheaply than similar models elsewhere, you need to ask why. Clue: it’s probably because the seller has something to hide. They hope that your greed for a bargain will overrule any suspicions you have. Don’t be that person.
- Your calls always go to voicemail: Calling up the seller is often a good test. If your calls always go to voicemail. be suspicious. A reputable dealer is usually quite happy to talk on the phone. If the voicemail tells you to email the seller, then you should be even more suspicious. Any legitimate dealer should be available by phone.
- You’re offered a van that’s abroad, but can be shipped to you. This is a classic scam. You’ll probably be asked for some money upfront. Although there are some legitimate vehicle importers in the UK, most of them import stock on their own account and then sell it to you when it’s in the UK. If you’re buying a used van, then there’s no reason to buy an import unless you want something very unusual. Our advice is stick to UK vans.
Using information from police, insurers and the DVLA, CDL performs more than one million vehicle history look-ups every day. In addition to its mycarcheck.com website, the company provides used car checks for customers including CompareTheMarket, Go-Compare and Moneysupermarket.
CDL’s Mike Bailey says that since May this year, the number of fraudulent online adverts has “really ramped up”.
Mr Bailey says that if you spot one or more of the three telltale signs of scam we’ve listed above, “you are probably being lined up” for a scam. If in doubt, it’s best to walk away.
There are plenty of legitimate used vans on the market, including many thousands of ex-rental vans sold through reputable dealers each year.