New car number plate changes could see spike in ‘distressing’ scams – how to avoid

Car registration: How to prevent number plate theft

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According to Metro Bank, there has been a rise in purchase scams around car sales, finance and leasing, especially as new number plates launch in September. Purchase scams can take many forms, but the release of new car licence plates drives an increase in scams around the sale and finance/leasing of vehicles as this is a key buying month for UK drivers.

Criminals will entice drivers with best deal offers often advertised on auction sites, such as eBay and Gumtree, or via social media.

In reality, these best deal cars do not exist; the criminals steal the images from genuine sellers to convince potential buyers that they have the vehicle.

Sometimes criminals may use cloned websites with slight changes to the URL to trick buyers into thinking they are purchasing from a genuine website.

Buyers are not the only ones being duped as drivers looking to lease/finance a vehicle are also targeted.

Criminals pose as a leasing or finance company encouraging drivers to pay a deposit for a non-existent car.

The new number plates are being changed in order to make them sturdier and more resilient.

They will also appear more clearly on police ANPR cameras.

Adam Speakman, head of fraud and investigations at Metro Bank, said: “After their homes, cars are most people’s biggest asset which is why these purchase scams are so distressing for the victims. 

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“Investing in a car is a significant spend and thieves target these purchases because of the amounts of money involved.

“We definitely see an uplift in this type of fraud around the issue of new car licence plates and advise anyone not buying a car from a reputable dealer during these periods to be extra cautious before purchasing.”

Metro Bank advises drivers to beware for deals that look too good to be true, because oftentimes, they are.

Deals advertised over social media that are considerably cheaper than market average should also be a red flag, especially if it is a new business or website.

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