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Checking a Used Car
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Clued-up Buyers Ask Key Questions

Call the number in that private sale ad and ask these killer questions to weed out suspicious sellers. Dodgy small-time traders with no (T) in their ads would love you to believe they're private sellers. Expose them by asking for details of "the car".


  • Do you own the car?
  • How long have you had the car?
  • Why is it for sale?
  • How many previous owners?
  • When's the next service due? And the MoT?
  • Are there any faults that you're aware of?
  • And have there been any recent repair/replacement bills?
  • Is the car clear of finance repayments?
  • Is all the paperwork available for inspection?
  • Of course I'd like to do a history data check. Is that OK?

Make a note of the replies. If answers are incomplete or evasive, stop now. Even if you're happy with the responses, ask some of the questions again when you view the car - and check that the answers correspond!

Latest Internet Scam Alert

It is sad to say that in August 2011 we have seen the largest increase in such crime and although the scam remains the same the vehicles change, as do the internet ads in very quick succession. This is big business fraud and the tactics are good, which is why people become another statistic or victim of vehicle fraud. Neither of which will return any funds handed over.

A customer approached MyCarCheck, ironically a policewoman, via our Contact Centre in Glasgow to announce - I've been looking at a BMW Z4 via an internet site and there's just something not right'. Luckily we had been provided with several emails from a previous customer regarding the same vehicle and the same advert. A BMW Z4, worth 12k being offered for 7k. The pictures looked great.

** Tip 1: If a vehicle is seriously under value compared to other similar vehicles being offered for sale then there is generally a reason why. Previously written off is normally one of the main reasons. Remember, genuine sellers will want to obtain the best sale price they can, not give it away for a song. This is the scammer?s way of luring in as many potential victims as possible.

As MyCarCheck was aware of the scam now from two previous customers, they decided to enquire on the vehicle over the weekend as a potential and somewhat 'naive' innocent purchaser.

** Tip 2: Always ensure that you speak with the seller. If, for example, you try to call the number placed in the advert and it always rings without being answered, or it goes to a foreign answerphone which you cannot understand, then the advert may be a scam.

Email conversation continued and the fraudster was not interested when he realised we had not been sucked into the scam and was not prepared to transfer funds across without receiving the vehicle first. Also to note for any unsuspecting buyers that do transfer funds, there will be no police action if you were to report the fraud. Fraud is considered a secondary offence in this day and age and as such it will not get investigated any further. Furthermore, police forces may not be prepared to register the fraud as a crime due to the fact that 'No one MADE YOU TRANSFER YOUR CASH'.

There are a number of variations of this scam; different vehicles, different countries being offered from, and so on. Also, a variation exists where they pose as a 63 and 64 year-old couple that have recently moved to Thurso in Scotland, although again they would only supply the vehicle when funds had been paid across 'to ensure you are serious about the purchase.'

It is also worth highlighting to readers that we generally receive calls weekly regarding these scams. Customers will generally forward on email correspondence, but usually too late to stop others seeing the advert before it can be removed and before it can be fully investigated. Unfortunately we do still receive calls from customers that have transferred the funds and three weeks later the vehicle has still not arrived.

At, when we are notified of these scams we have made good inroads with advertisers to ensure the advert is pulled with immediate effect. Sometimes though, the first notification we receive is when the funds have already been transferred. Due to the regularity of this scam, we, as a company, are pro-active and always aim to contact any enquirers directly via our services that the vehicle being offered is a scam. It is taking a good many customers by surprise that we are that vigilant in our approach regarding this scam, although many are very pleased we do and have, luckily, got to them before they have transferred their funds. We are finding that once we have saved them from making an expensive mistake they will become customers for life. Also, with so many consumers using our services (2.2 million last year), we have a good army of car purchasers out there that certainly were not looking to lose their cash.

We have telephone numbers clearly listed on our website for customers wishing to ask questions regarding potential purchases. Our view is that if you need to ask the question, please call and ask it - it could stop you making an expensive mistake and potentially spending your cash on photographs of a vehicle that will never arrive.

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