Huge numbers of used car cons from Del Boy sellers

New research reveals pitfalls of UK’s 1.4M annual private car sales

The recession has had an impact on many things in the UK and apparently has also affected peoples honesty. One in five people will admit that they have lied when they were selling their car. The survey that revealed this was conducted by Trusted Dealers, which is a used car website. This site is backed up by around forty of the top franchised dealers in the UK. The survey involved 2,000 people and found that 20% were willing to tell lies to sell their car.

Nearly seven million used cars were sold last year and this means that, if the survey is accurate, around one and a half million of these have been sold dishonestly. This can pose unknown dangers to the people who now own the cars.

When people were asked to say the main reason why they lied when selling the car most of them said that it was money. This is very telling of the poor economic climate where people are needing to get as much money as possible from sales.

The survey found that the most common lie was to hide a fault with the car from the buyer. The second most common deception was hiding the accurate service history of the car. Some people were committing more serious offences, such as lying about the mileage of the car and one in twenty people would not tell buyers about previous accidents.

Following the findings, Trusted Dealers has launched Scambusters, a new consumer campaign to expose scams and dodgy dealings whilst providing topical consumer advice to help protect buyers. As part of the campaign, Trusted Dealers has created a dedicated Scambuster webpage containing a downloadable safe buying guide, and is encouraging ripped off motorists to post details of scams to help warn other drivers of unscrupulous practices.

Details of any scams will then be passed to the Office of Fair Trading and the Police.

Neil Addley, managing director of Trusted Dealers said: “This research clearly demonstrates the hidden dangers of buying a car from a private seller and although the majority of lies covered small defects, a worrying minority were trying to conceal potentially serious problems.

“Trusted Dealers has brought together some of the most respected names in the motor trade to provide a safe place for motorists to buy a car and the Scambusters campaign will protect motorists and help to raise standards in the used car industry by identifying and exposing rogue operators and conmen.”

The research also found that Scottish sellers are the most likely to twist the truth (27 percent), followed closely by lying Londoners and wheeler dealing Essex Boys.

Yorkshire was found to be the most trustworthy part of the UK with fewer than 13 percent of sellers prepared to tell a lie.

Over a third of private sellers (38 per cent) said they had used diversion tactics to distract a buyer from a problem with a car, with 15 per cent parking the car in a position to hide bumps, cracks and scratches.

A further three percent used temporary air fresheners to hide permanent smells.

To help buyers avoid potential scams, Trusted Dealers has put together 5 tips for buying in safety:

1. Arrange to view the car at the seller’s home and make sure you see them come out. Check the address matches the registration documents. Beware of a seller who insists on meeting at a pub or in a car park, their motives may be suspect.

2. Always take a friend, partner or relative with you for safety and don’t carry cash.

3. Check the car matches the description on the online advert. If they’ve exaggerated how good the condition of the vehicle is, be on your guard because the seller may also be hiding much more serious mechanical problems.

4. Take care with payment. Many forms of internet payment are not suitable for transactions between strangers and could be open to fraud. These include ESCROW, Moneygram or Western Union money transfers. Never hand over cash.

5. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be suspicious and prepared to walk away.