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Cap HPI warns car dealers about social distancing's increased fraud risk

Wendy Swaine, head of retail at Cap HPI

COVID-19 social distancing measures are putting dealers at a higher risk of fraud in the part-exchange process, according to Cap HPI.

Wendy Swaine, head of sales retail accounts at the he car valuations, data and technology business, said that checks of the physical vehicle and associated documentation should still be “rigorously completed” to avoid potential fraud.

The advice comes as increasing numbers of retailers embrace digital sales platforms allowing part-exchange appraisals via a video link or through a customers’ submission of vehicle images.

Swaine said: “We have seen the introduction of social distancing rules create a tendency to loosen the care taken in completing both the physical appraisal of the vehicle and a thorough check of the ownership documents. Unfortunately, this puts the dealer at higher risk of fraud.

“Completing an appropriate inspection of both the physical vehicle and associated documentation may take a slightly longer time to complete to comply with social distancing but the time spent is worth it.

“This careful assessment ensures that dealers are not buying a clone, not buying from the registered keeper, or under/overvaluing the vehicle.

She added: “It is vital that dealers have in place a process where the vehicle can be inspected and appraised properly before any monies change hands, ensuring they are covered by the HPI warranty and lower their risk of being caught out.”

Cap HPI has issued the following list of car appraisal tips to help retailers managing risk in the part-exchange process:

  1. Check the VIN in multiple locations to help protect against clones. Make sure the VIN plate is not loose or tampered with in any way, or covered with a replica sticker.
  2. Ensure that all documentation is verified. It is essential to see the original V5, multiple proofs of identification, and it is recommended to check the driving licence on DVLC.
  3. Appraise the general wear and tear of the vehicle compared to its age and mileage.
  4. Make sure the optional extras are appraised, as it will help to ensure you have the correct vehicle, avoid fraud and not over-pay.

Despite highlighting the continued need for a thorough physical inspection, Cap HPI said that it is currently developing a range of tools to help dealers manage the part-exchange process remotely.

A guided appraisal tool is already available to help ensure the process follows best practice.

The company also has a ‘consumer’ version under development, which will enable the dealer’s a customer to provide a guided appraisal of their vehicle.

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