Watch out for ‘the paint scratch scam’

The people at the UK’s number one vehicle provenance website (mycarcheck.com ) tell us that they have saved millions of people from making an expensive used car mistake.

Thanks to strong working relationships with both the police and leading insurance companies, MyCarCheck is usually one of the first to hear about the latest vehicle theft scams.

A new one involves a seemingly good citizen leaving a note after causing minor damage to your car, but the real motive is far from honourable.

Roger Powell, divisional head at CDL Vehicle Information Services Ltd (which owns mycarcheck.com ), explained: “Our main business is helping used car buyers to confirm whether their potential pride and joy has a questionable history, but in the course of our day-to-day business we get to hear about the latest tactics being employed by car thieves. I must emphasise that the likelihood of falling victim to such a swindle is relatively low, but we consider it our duty to put consumers in the picture as to the latest scams criminals are using.

“A well-placed industry source has told us there have been at least two instances of ‘the paint scratch con’ being used in the south east of the UK recently.

“The scenario is as follows: A thief or accomplice scratches a target car and leaves a note apologising for the damage and promising to send out a repair company. Someone duly turns up purporting to be from such a company, but their actual intention is to use a diagnostic device to clone the owner’s car key.

“The cover story is that a laptop needs to be plugged into the car’s Engine Control Unit (ECU ) in order to establish the correct paint code. They then claim they don't carry that particular paint and will need to return later, which they don’t. They now have all the information required to create a copy of the owner's key and can return to steal the vehicle at any time.”

In 2010, mycarcheck.com and MyTextCheck delivered 2.2m consumer checks, which equates to 27 per cent of all vehicles that changed hands in the UK. Parent company CDL performs over 1m vehicle data checks a day for companies including AutoExpress, CompareTheMarket, Go-Compare, Moneysupermarket, Tesco Bank, and WhatCar?

It uses up-to-the-minute information from the Police National Computer (PNC ), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA ), the Association of British Insurers (ABI ), and major finance houses

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