Look out for this car park scam
Published 23 September 2016
Some car owners and drivers are being lured into a scam – find out how, and what to look out for.
Nobody wants to be involved in an accident, especially if your vehicle is bumped when you aren’t there. If that does happen, we all hope that the driver is honest and leaves a note on the windscreen with some contact details. But what happens when that note can’t be trusted and is part of a scam?
That’s right, this honesty is now being used to target car owners – so it’s important to be on the lookout and know how to spot this con.
What to look out for
As you’d expect, the note typically explains that the other driver has bumped your car and provides some contact details. But when you call the number given, the person you’ve called starts asking for your personal details – such as your name, address, phone number and so on. And in some cases, these details are being used by identity fraudsters.
In another variant of this scam, the phone number you’re asked to call is a premium rate number. The fraudsters try to keep you on line for as long as possible and this in turn ends up costing you a small fortune.
Apply common sense
If you do return to your car and find a note, how do you know if it’s genuine or not? Firstly, check your vehicle for any new bumps or scratches. If there is no new damage to your vehicle, question why the note is actually there.
But if there is damage, you can call the number – just make sure to stay vigilant. Ideally, you need the other driver’s number plate and the name of their insurer, so that you can then pass them onto your insurer. You don’t actually need to give out any of your personal details. If you are put on hold, or the person starts asking for lots of personal information, just hang up. If you suspect that it’s a scam, contact Action Fraud. Explain what happened clearly and keep hold of the note as evidence.
If your vehicle is bumped in the street or a car park and nobody has accepted responsibility, you should contact your insurer and report it. Legally you should report any accident to your insurer, even if you don’t plan to make a claim. If the cost of the repair is relatively low, it may not be worth claiming when you allow for the excess that you’ll have to pay. If this is the case, you’ll have to decide whether to leave the car damaged or shell out yourself.
Familiarise yourself with your insurance
Finally, be sure to know the details of car insurance you’ve bought and what it covers you for. For example, if you’ve got third party cover, you won’t be covered for damage to your own car anyway. If you have comprehensive cover then you can claim if somebody damages your car (even if they don’t leave a note).
If you pay monthly, be sure not to fall behind and risk your policy being cancelled. Similarly, don’t ignore your renewal notice – you don’t want to be left without cover if you accidentally forget to renew it. The first renewal reminder is a great time to shop around and see if you can save money on your next premium.