But some scammers are turning away from money-making schemes and trying to spread fear and doubt among British motorists. Enter the great British “traffic scams”. Current scams Brits need to watch out for include:
- The ‘bogus broker’. Insurance brokers who offer premiums that are too good to be true, where the ‘broker’ amends key personal details which invalidate your policy.
- The ‘crash for cash’ scheme is well known, as scammers stage car crashes involving innocent victims and then submit vastly inflated claims for their own fake injuries.
- A scaremonger scam advising motorists to ignore unmarked police vehicles trying to pull your vehicle over until you reach a safe place.
Said Ronan Hart, Autonational’s marketing manager: “Often the scams aren’t particularly sophisticated but they are dangerously misleading thousands of innocent people, sometimes conning them out of money or causing injury.
“These warning emailed messages that do the rounds every so often may contain a grain of truth, which is how they get a reaction. And so the only way to beat the scammers is to be on your guard, especially when receiving unsolicited emails or letters, and talk them through with friends and family before responding or forwarding on to others.”
Here are the basics of three motoring scams currently in circulation.
The first relies on the fact that it will be repeated by friends or colleagues who, simply by forwarding on the information, keep the scam going for years.
The Unmarked Police Car
Lauren was driving to visit a friend, when an UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put its lights on. Lauren’s parents have told her never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather wait until she gets to a service station or safe place. She telephones 112 from her mobile phone. This, says the scam, connects her to a police dispatcher whether or not her mobile phone has a signal.
The dispatcher calls for help, police cars arrive and the man in the car, said to be a convicted rapist, is arrested. All because the lady driver knew about the 112 special mobile number to call the police.
Except it’s a dangerous scam suggesting you can ignore an unmarked police car, which can stop other traffic at any time provided it contains a uniformed police officer.
The telephone number 112 on your mobile is an emergency number used throughout the European Union which should connect you to the emergency services in whatever EU country you are in, but police in the UK prefer you to dial the usual 999 number in an emergency.
What’s more, no mobile on the planet can currently connect you to an emergency number if there is absolutely no signal.
Crash for Cash
This scam is about as dangerous as they come. Gangs of fraudsters deliberately stage a slow speed car crash involving innocent motorists – complete with their own ‘witnesses’ – and then submit exaggerated claims for personal injury, loss of earnings, car hire and damage repairs.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a ‘crash for cash’ scam, or any type of motoring insurance fraud in the UK, you can blow the whistle easily enough on fraudsters by calling Cheatline in confidence on 0800 422 0421, 24 hours a day, and speak to an operator.
The Bogus Brokers
This one is all about fraudsters who advertise as ‘insurance brokers’ but whose insurance premiums are just too good to be true.
They’ll take your money and may even insure you to drive, but they change some of the key details – perhaps increasing your no claim bonus years for example or changing your age – which will invalidate your insurance.
If you’re uncertain that an insurance broker is legitimate then check with the Financial Services Authority to make certain they’re authorised and registered with them.
Autonational’s spokesman Ronan Hart concluded: “It’s always best to err on the side of caution. If you believe you are falling victim to any kind of motoring scam, check it out with your friends, family or the appropriate help lines.”
Information courtesy of Autonational Rescue.
For more information about Autonational Rescue call 08459 500 999 or visit the website at www.autonational.co.uk