How scammers are targeting Australia’s used car market

Posted on June 6, 2024Comments Off on How scammers are targeting Australia’s used car market

While the advent of the internet has made it easier than ever to buy and sell used cars, scammers are going to new lengths to trick Australians into handing over their money.

More than 180,000 used cars were sold across Australia in April, with the market continuing to boom following the global pandemic.

The Herald Sun, citing data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), reports scammers made off with more than $500,000 between January and April this year through online swindling, which included used car sales.

While worryingly high, it’s less than the $800,000 they made off with during the same period last year.

According to the consumer watchdog, scams on Facebook Marketplace and other social media platforms contributed to Australians losing $93.5 million in 2023.

The ACCC warned about common ways that unscrupulous online users are attempting to swindle used car sellers, such as pretending to be defence personnel who want to sell their car before deployment, or divorcees looking to get rid of cars awarded in a settlement.

Sellers have also been asked by alleged buyers to arrange and cover transport costs, only to be left in the dark when chasing reimbursement.

Online, multiple forums are also rife with stories of used car buyers being told they can’t view the car they’re looking to buy before making a prepayment, or those who’ve unfortunately paid for a vehicle sight unseen only for it to not exist.

While there’s little protection or other options for sellers other than to remain vigilant, used car buyers in various Australian states now have greater tools to protect themselves from making dodgy purchases.

Earlier this week, Victoria launched its VicRoads Vehicle Report which includes data about the vehicle’s transfer and registration history, previous roadworthy results, recorded odometer readings, and safety and emission ratings.

The report also includes an official Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) certificate, confirming if the vehicle has been stolen or written off, and if any money is owing on it.

New South Wales also offers a vehicle history report to buyers, which includes a car’s last three odometer readings, registration history and if it’s ever been written off or stolen.

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