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TechnologyAlert: Surge in Private Number Plate Scams Circulating Social Media

Alert: Surge in Private Number Plate Scams Circulating Social Media

Automobile experts have issued a stern caution to drivers, advising them to exercise caution when engaging in the buying and selling of customised license plates on social media platforms, citing a burgeoning risk of falling prey to scams.

Motorists run the risk of losing substantial sums, ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds, should they decide to list their UK private plates for sale on social media marketplaces, as instances of fraudulent activities have been skyrocketing.

Plates4Less, a division of VRM Swansea, has unveiled the top three scams and rolled out a dedicated guide aimed at empowering drivers to shield themselves from potential deception.

The scams can be categorised into three prevalent types:

  1. Deceptive Buyer: A genuine buyer posts a ‘wanted’ advertisement. In response, a scammer tenders a tempting offer, and the transaction transpires in a private setting. However, the buyer is left empty-handed, having lost their funds in the process.
  2. False Buyer: A swindler posing as a purchaser persuades the seller to send them the certificate of ownership before any monetary exchange occurs. However, the sale never reaches completion.
  3. Ownership Impersonation: A scammer lists an item for sale that they do not rightfully own, often utilising another individual’s entitlement copy as faux proof of ownership.

Plates4Less, situated in Swansea, dedicates itself to facilitating the buying and selling of personalised number plates across the UK and Northern Ireland.

Antony Clark, the Marketing Manager at Plates4Less, expressed, “We come across scenarios akin to these on a regular basis, and their prevalence seems to be surging. Potential buyers should exercise utmost caution, verifying the legal ownership of the registration mark before parting with their funds.

“Our suggestion would be to conduct the transaction in person, whenever feasible. If a deal appears too enticing, it’s likely too good to be true,” he advised.

The uptick in these incidents can be attributed in part to shifts in government protocols, allowing anyone possessing a valid certificate number to promptly assign that registration mark to their vehicle. The link between the applicant and the registration mark is no longer requisite. Thus, individuals who inadvertently post their certificate online or encounter email breaches become susceptible to exploitation by scammers, who can use or sell the certificate at their discretion.

Many victims of private number plate theft only discover the crime long after when they attempt to utilise the registration mark, only to realise that it has been reassigned to another vehicle.

Plates4Less has rolled out a set of protective guidelines for owners of personalised plates:

  • Avoid Sharing Certificate Images Online
  • Safeguard Physical Documentation: Store it securely and periodically verify its validity.
  • Monitor Email Activity: Ensure that online accounts associated with the DVLA, containing plate details, haven’t been infiltrated by scammers.
  • Reputable Business Transactions: When selling or assessing the value of a number plate, resort to credible businesses. Research their reviews on third-party platforms.

Antony further affirmed, “In the interest of both parties’ security, we advocate utilising a trusted and fully accredited intermediary such as Plates4Less for a secure transfer of funds and merchandise. We offer a safeguarded and gratifying experience for both buyers and sellers. Transparency is paramount, and parties can rest assured that they’ll receive precisely what they’ve purchased at a fair price.”

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcock
With over 20 years of experience in the field SEO and digital marketing, Sam Allcock is a highly regarded entrepreneur. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.
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