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Check the Car Buyer's Credentials Before Selling

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 12 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Credentials Used Car Buyer Checking

Selling a used car can be a daunting enough prospect, but it can turn into a nightmare when a potential buyer turns out to be a criminal in disguise. Time wasters and experienced hagglers can be difficult to deal with, yet the real threat comes when a thief poses as a buyer.

A seller must be vigilant and follow certain rules to avoid being caught out by a scam. Of course, any buyer who is serious about purchasing a car will want to take the car for a test drive, but beware that a criminal can see a test drive as an opportunity to strike.

The first rule is never let a potential buyer go for a test drive alone – as there is a real risk he will not come back. Some buyers may offer their own car keys or wallet as security, but do not accept this offer, as the car or the wallet could have been stolen.

Don’t Leave Keys in the Ignition

Sellers are advised to keep a firm hold of their keys at all times when a potential buyer visits their home address. Never leave the car keys in the ignition when swapping seats during a test drive, as a thief can use such a moment to his advantage. Police warn that a key left unattended in the ignition can be switched for a similar key and the seller may not realise until the car is later stolen with the original.

Victims have been tricked into leaving a potential buyer alone with the car in a variety of ways. The distraction may be a telephone call from the thief’s accomplice, or the criminal may ask to borrow a torch in order to take a good look in the engine bay. As soon as the seller has left the car, it has been stolen.

Even when a buyer is legitimate, it pays for the seller to check his credentials. A test drive can be nerve-wracking and, although there is no way to avoid it, a seller should at least ensure the buyer has valid insurance cover. The onus is on the seller to make sure a buyer is insured to drive the car during a test drive.

Be Insured

Although it is most unlikely, it is worth a seller checking with his insurance company to find out if other drivers are covered to drive the car. It is far more likely that the insurance will be invalidated by someone else driving the car. In this instance, check the buyer’s insurance certificate to ensure he is covered to drive other cars with third-party cover. Be aware that this is the minimum legal requirement, so the seller will not receive a penny from a buyer’s insurers should he damage the car.

If a test driver does not have any insurance, the seller can be liable for any accidents the buyer may have, so if unhappy with a buyer’s credentials, do not let him drive. Once the test drive is under way, let the buyer follow his own route and be prepared for the car to be driven hard. Remember the whole idea is to sell the car, but if the car is being abused, ask the test driver to calm down.

If a buyer is caught by a speed camera during a test drive, the seller should take note of the exact time and date of the test drive as well as the driver’s details, otherwise the seller can face a fine and penalty points.

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melaniestomblin - 23-Dec-11 @ 7:12 PM
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