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E-commerce Vehicle Sales And Staying Safe Online

E-commerce giant Amazon has recently unveiled plans to venture into online vehicle sales in 2024, exclusively catering to customers within the USA.

While the company’s intentions for the European and UK markets remain uncertain, the initial rollout will feature a curated selection of Hyundai vehicles sourced from local suppliers.

Motoring Scam Alert

Amazon and Hyundai will collaborate on developing a new generation of in-car infotainment systems.

Hyundai’s forthcoming vehicles will integrate Alexa Assistant, empowering drivers to execute various functions through voice commands, such as playing music, programming navigation directions, setting reminders, updating to-do lists, and checking calendars.

The partnership envisions enhancing the overall shopping experience and simplifying vehicle usage.

Porsche also joined the league of vehicle manufacturers, incorporating Google Maps and Google Assistance into their vehicles. General Motors, Renault, and Ford have embraced embedded Google technology in their respective vehicles.

The dangers of driving with new technology

However, amidst these online and technical advancements, there is a dark underbelly. A recent report has highlighted a disturbing trend where new and used car buyers are falling victim to a fraudulent scheme on Facebook Marketplace.

Fraudsters are leveraging stolen photos and videos of authentic vehicles to advertise cars they do not own, with nearly £500,000 reported lost in 2023, up 93% compared to 2022.

Individuals aged 18-25 are the most susceptible to these scams, constituting 20% of all reported cases, while the over-60s demographic accounts for 14% of victims.

This alarming trend underscores the importance of being vigilant online, urging consumers to exercise caution and adopt secure payment practices to safeguard against fraudulent activities on social media platforms like Facebook Marketplace.

What scams should motorists be aware of?

Fake Insurance / Ghost Brokers: Ghost brokers target those needing affordable insurance, offering seemingly incredible deals. These scammers manipulate documents, alter policy details, and even cancel policies without the policyholder’s knowledge, leaving them without cover. Verify brokers through the British Insurance Brokers’ Association website for added security.

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‘DVLA’ Scam: Fraudsters pose as the DVLA or, enticing motorists with promises of car tax refunds. Victims are lured into providing personal and banking details, leading to extortion or identity theft. The DVLA explicitly states that they never send emails or text messages with such requests.

How to avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim

With the internet and social media evolving into favoured tools for fraudsters, staying ahead of the game is more crucial than ever.

  1. Beware of Unsolicited Contacts: Be cautious of unexpected contact from individuals claiming to be from the DVLA or an insurance broker. Never click links or call numbers from suspicious emails.
  2. Be Sceptical: Whether it’s an incredibly low mileage, a cheap private or motor trade insurance policy, or an unexpected tax refund, exercise caution.
  3. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on social media and the news for coverage of recent scams.
  4. Do Your Research: Check the vehicle’s market value before engaging with the seller. If the price seems too good to be true, exercise caution.
  5. Verify Vehicle Information: Request the car’s registration number, make, and model before meeting the seller. Use the DVLA’s free online vehicle enquiry service and inspect all documents in person.
  6. Check VINs and Location: Ensure that all Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) match, comparing them to the V5C logbook. Insist on seeing the car at the address on the logbook rather than at laybys or service stations.
  7. Secure Payment Methods: Use debit or credit cards instead of cash when making purchases to add a layer of protection against scammers.

As the motor trade dealer landscape evolves, vigilance is critical to safeguarding against scams. Stay informed, stay cautious, and protect yourself from falling prey to the ever-growing sophistication of car fraud.