Latest research by HPI confirms that 1 in 3 cars still have something to hide and that the risk of buying a car that has outstanding finance against it or has been clocked or cloned is an increasing threat for today’s car buyer.
according to Daniel Burgess, Automotive Director for HPI “Even though the “1 in 3” statistic has not changed for a number of years now, we are definitely seeing a shift in the types of car fraud being used to dupe the unsuspecting buyer. Consumers still need to take simple precautions to protect themselves from buying a stolen, written-off or cloned vehicle. Used car prices for some types of vehicles have hit record lows and there are some great bargains to be had from legitimate sellers, but buyers should be wary of a deal that seems too good.
“We do urge buyers not to take a bargain at face value. They should conduct some simple checks to be sure of the facts, however, as the old saying goes, if a deal looks too good to be true it usually is.”
Outstanding finance is still a growing risk for used car buyers with 1 in 4 cars checked by HPI still subject to an outstanding finance agreement. The leading vehicle information provider is warning car buyers that if they unwittingly buy a car on outstanding finance, there is a very real chance that they will lose both the car and the money they paid for it, as the finance company still own the vehicle until the finance has been settled.
1 in 5 cars checked by HPI customers have had at least one plate change, making it one of the most frequent ‘hits’ against all of the HPI registers. As many people are putting off changing their current car until the economy recovers, status conscious owners could well be disguising the true age of their vehicle with a personalised plate. However, buyers should be warned that many crooks also use plate changes to try to obscure a vehicle’s true past. There are risks involved in plate changes. Thieves in a stolen car may seize plates from another car parked on the street whilst police continue to search for the stolen car under its original number plate. Consequently an efficient fraudster can sell the car on before the stolen plates are also reported. An HPI Check will match the vehicle registration number with the vehicle’s chassis number – any mismatches may indicate something is amiss with the vehicle.
Clocking back the miles
After plate changes, buyers are most likely to encounter a car with a mileage that’s going backwards. Despite digital odometers being commonplace in cars today, these are proving no deterrent against clocking. In fact, the number of vehicles being clocked is on the rise, with 8 out of every 100 cars checked against the National Mileage Register revealing mileage discrepancies in 2008 compared to 7 out of every 100 cars checked in 2007. Sellers may see the clocking of a vehicle as an easy way to make extra cash. Despite the efforts of Police and Trading Standards to clamp down on this practice, the fact remains that clocking is still a big issue for consumers.
Stolen to order?
Latest police figures suggest that over 450 vehicles are stolen every day**, many of which are then sold on to unsuspecting buyers. This highlights the importance of an HPI Check as a tool to ensure you’re not one of those unsuspecting customers Another increasing problem is that many stolen vehicles are ‘cloned’ to disguise their identity so that they appear legitimate. HPI will investigate any stolen ‘hits’ with the police to verify the status of the vehicle. If this is confirmed as correct, customers are then advised to contact their local police force.
Increase in write-offs
It’s easy to be taken in by shiny paintwork and a low price, but with 790,000 vehicles written-off in the last ten years by insurance companies***, and 4 in 100 vehicles checked by HPI recorded as ‘written off’, it is evident that the unscrupulous will do anything to make a quick profit.
“These statistics are a wake-up call for all used car buyers,” concludes Daniel Burgess. “Our latest figures show there are a number of areas to be especially wary about, but an HPI Check can spell the difference between buying a banger or a bargain.”
*Car buying cons cost drivers close on £90m – 25th March 2009 (www.motors.co.uk)
**Car Crime UK, Episode 2, ITV
***Figure sourced from UK Car Body Repair Market report by Trend Tracker, June 2008