Urgent warning issued to drivers over car leasing social media scams

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When it comes to car leasing, most major brokers and automobile dealers are trustworthy, but like any type of business, it’s easy for customers to fall for genuine-looking scams. To help keep consumers safe, car leasing experts at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts have found and dissected an online scam account, revealing how to avoid these scams, and what to do if drivers fall victim to one.

How to avoid a car leasing scam

Have you been able to verify the company on official records?

Reputable car leasing companies who deal with regulated customers must register with certain organisations, including:

Financial Services Register – The Financial Services Register holds details of every financial company who are registered and regulated by the FCA. If a company offers financial services or associated products, then you should be able to see their credentials by entering their name or postcode into the website. It’s important that if the company is not registered with the FCA, you should avoid using them.

Companies House – You can confirm if a company is registered with the British Government by searching for a company’s details on the Companies House website.

BVRLA or FLA – Whilst it is not a legal requirement to join a trade body site, you can often use sites like the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) or the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) to help verify a car leasing company.

Run additional checks to avoid cold callers

If you’re worried that contact from a company isn’t genuine, it’s worth running additional checks to avoid cold callers.

Treat all unexpected calls, emails and text messages with caution. Don’t assume they’re genuine, even if the person seems to know some basic information about you.

Always double-check the URL and contact details of a firm to make sure they’re not a ‘clone firm’ pretending to be a real firm and check for the SSL green padlock.

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Verify the contact details on the FCA register to ensure you call the business’s genuine phone number.

Five scam warning signs to look out for on social media

If you’re suspicious about a business, then it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, particularly if rates are hugely reduced compared to the rest of the market.

Within minutes of searching on Instagram for car leasing businesses, experts at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts found what is believed to be a scam account, offering potentially vulnerable customers the chance to ‘lease’ a car without the need for a credit check.

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Nationwide Vehicle Contracts highlighted key warning signs that were all found with this account:

  • Too good to be true offer – leasing without the need for a credit check
  • Limited contact details – their website was not registered and the only contact details are a Whatsapp number
  • No search results – when searching for the business name online, there were no reviews as claimed on the account and the only search record was the Instagram account
  • The images of cars posted on the account were all taken from the internet. Experts were able to check this by reverse image searching on Google
  • Nationwide Vehicle Contracts also searched for the business name on the FCA and Companies House websites, all showing no results

Report unauthorised or clone firms to prevent future scams

Finally, if you think you’ve been approached by an unauthorised or a clone firm (a firm you suspect isn’t legitimate) contact the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 and report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Keith Hawes, automotive specialist and Director of Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, said: “Ultimately, you should feel 100 percent comfortable before entering into an agreement with a leasing provider.

“If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct and run additional checks. If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), so you’re unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.”

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