According to the Office for National Statistics, you’re now 35 times more likely to be a victim of fraud than robbery. Yet, a Home Office-backed campaign found that only nine percent of Britons can spot a scam.
Car buyers, especially those shopping for vehicles and finance online, are a prime target for fraudsters, with the high value of transactions proving tempting and the anonymity of the internet making them hard to trace.
Every year online scams are becoming more common and more sophisticated. Scammers are using social engineering techniques to manipulate people into giving over confidential information like addresses, passwords and bank account details.
Recently, the car leasing industry has been targeted by “deplorable” scammers targeting vulnerable people. Last month, the British Rental and Leasing Association issued a warning after criminals started posing as members of the association on social media to rip off unwitting victims.
With that warning still fresh we spoke to Tom Preston, managing director of Hippo Leasing, who offered some tips on how to spot the signs of a car leasing scam.
1. Sound too good to be true?
…then it probably is!
Car leasing is a financial agreement between a customer and a finance company, allowing you to drive your chosen car for a fixed length of time at an agreed monthly price.
All legitimate leasing brokers adhere to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules and will carry out credit and affordability checks before offering you a deal.
2. You’re being bombarded with jargon
Often scammers bombard potential victims with jargon to confuse and tip the balance of power in their favour.
Any product worth paying attention to can be explained in simple terms. If a leasing company isn’t giving you clear information about the deposit, monthly payments or agreement length but expect you to sign a contract, walk away.
3. Do your research
If you’re thinking about leasing a car or van, do your research first.
Scammers have recently been targeting people with bad credit by paying for advertising on social media apps like Instagram. The dodgy accounts ask potential victims to direct message them to take out a policy.
If you see an advert online, always search for the company’s website and contact details yourself to check it’s legit. You can also find out if a leasing broker is genuine by contacting the BVRLA.
4. Don’t bow down to pressure
A common tactic by scammers is to pressure you into making a quick decision to bypass your rational thought process.
An honest car leasing salesman will always provide you with all the information you need and give you the time and space to make an informed decision.
Anyone who tries to rush you should not be trusted, after all, signing any contract is a big decision.
5. Report it
If you’ve come across a car leasing scam, or fallen victim to one, it’s important to report it so steps can be taken to close the fake social media account, website or email address before others get caught in the trap.
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