Buying a used car? Stay safe online

Looking to buy a second hand vehicle? Have you been asked to enter bank or credit/debit card details online in order to secure or purchase it? Don’t be a victim of online fraud.

Be aware of online ‘phishing’ scams. You will think that you are dealing with a genuine car seller, and they will direct you to something that might resemble an official RAC website – for example, it will feature an RAC logo. However, the seller may not be who they say they are, and the website will be bogus.

The RAC does not take payment or get involved in the exchange of money for new or used cars. We also do not offer any ‘payment protection’ type service for vehicle sales.

What should I do if I think I’ve spotted such a scam, or have fallen victim to one?

If you are in doubt as to whether the website you are using is genuine, stop what you are doing immediately and contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. We would also be grateful if you can inform the RAC by emailing – please provide as many details on the scam as you can to help us investigate.

A typical scenario

Here’s an example scenario (note this is an example only, and you may be directed to a bogus website via a number of different means):

  • You find a vehicle to buy on a used car website.
  • You liaise with the seller, generally over email.
  • The seller directs you to a different website to either pay for some or all of the car.
  • You’re asked to ‘register a transaction’ with the RAC – the RAC name is given to give you confidence in making the payment.
  • You provide bank details over a supposedly secure webpage.

Rather than paying for the car, we believe that doing the above actually deposits money into a fraudster’s bank account.

The RAC acts swiftly to get fraudulent websites carrying the RAC name and brand taken down as quickly as possible, and we will use the full force of the law to pursue and prosecute the parties responsible. We appreciate your help in addressing this problem.

An example of the type of website you might be sent to:

Other online sources of help:

Action Fraud – The UK's national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

Get Safe Online – The leading source of unbiased, factual and easy to understand information on online safety.

Adviceguide – The main public information service of Citizen's Advice.