4 Accident damage
Enterprising criminals buy wrecks and transform them into good-looking cars at bargain prices.
Total write-offs and the infamous cut n shut (two cars one with front damage only, the other with rear damage only that have been cobbled together into one whole undamaged car) can be bodged into looking like safe and reliable vehicles. However, its unlikely that the works been done well, and it would be dangerous should the car be involved in another accident.
A decent history report will show if a cars been officially written off by an insurer, but some still slip through the net, so beware.
A vehicle inspection by a qualified engineer should flush out an old wreck, because its hard to totally hide the signs of repair work and welding.
5 Dodgy sellers
Back-street traders and criminals can pretend to be private sellers so they can pass on poor-quality or dodgy cars. Always say when you phone: Im calling about the car for sale. If they answer: Which one?, be on your guard. If they have more than one, they may be selling cars that cant be sold on a forecourt, and they almost certainly arent paying income tax on the sales.
Organised crime gangs also pose as private sellers to sell stolen or suspect cars. Never agree to meet in a remote or secluded place. Always see the car at the sellers house, and make sure they really live there ask to use the loo.
Also, never carry large amounts of cash when you go to see a car and always take a friend.
6 False identity
Guard your personal details, because theyre as valuable as your cash. Cars (among other luxury goods) are a favourite buy for identity thieves, who use your details to make the purchase.
Beat them by shredding old statements, utilities bills and unwanted loan applications. Criminals can use these to organise a car finance agreement in your name. Theyll quickly sell the car on leaving you to foot the bills and explain where the car is.
Keep your eyes peeled for suspicious paperwork arriving in the post and check your bank account for mystery payments.
If youre unexpectedly refused credit, a personal credit history check may expose criminal activity. If you think youve had your identity stolen, contact your bank and the police.