Car buyers have been warned to check the validity of MoT test certificates after police arrested a man on suspicion of supplying fake documents.
The 38-year-old man has been released on bail by Cleveland Police, but Trading Standards Institute (TSI) bosses say the arrest highlights how easy it is to forge MoT certificates.
Officers from the TSI are telling consumers that the only way to be sure a car has a valid MoT is to check the official Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) record, which can only be accessed online.
The TSI's motor trade lead officer, Gerald Taylor, said that paper documents are no longer proof that a car has a valid MoT certificate.
'When the new certificates were first implemented in October 2011, they were only intended to be a receipt for the MoT test,' he said.
'The certificate, in its present form, can be altered and abused at will using the simplest of computer software. Purchasers whether private or trade should not rely on printed MoT certificates when buying cars.'
A VOSA spokesperson said: 'The definitive record of a vehicles MoT test status is held on the computerised MoT system. We would advise motorists to check a vehicles' MoT status online.'
The Department for Transport will review the system later in 2012.
Is your MoT certificate valid?
Heres how to find out
1. Access VOSAs MoT test status records by clicking here
2. Enter the cars registration plate number, along with either the serial number on the cars MoT certificate, or the serial number on the V5C.