Compiled by Annalise Kempen
When times are tough, people are looking for bargains including finding an affordable, reliable second-hand vehicle. In as much as we believe that online searches can help us to save time and money when we are looking for a vehicle, criminals are taking advantage of the use of technology by posting the “best and most affordable deals ever” while waiting for their next victim to contact them.
Meet Susan, a young woman who has just entered the job market. Her vehicle was stolen at her office merely a month after she had started her first job. Since she was still driving her student vehicle which she had inherited from her grandmother, she realised that the money that she was to receive from the insurance pay-out would only be sufficient to use as a deposit on another vehicle. Susan was desperate to find another vehicle soon. Her first port of call was finding a vehicle via an online platform as she was not in a position to drive from one vehicle dealer to another in search for an affordable car.
We all know that our Internet search history is no secret - in fact those who are active on social media platforms will soon find advertisements related to product searches on their timelines. That is because of algorithms used by Facebook and the likes that show our activities across Facebook pages and which help to show us adverts which they think we might be interested in (www.facebook.com). Since Susan is also an active social media user, it was not long before she found various advertisements for “reliable and affordable second-hand vehicles” on her Facebook timeline. But sadly, her desperation to find another vehicle as soon as her insurance claim was settled, prevented her from doing proper homework before she committed to buy a bargain. Susan bought a vehicle which looked good on paper, but was later confiscated by the police since it was a stolen vehicle sold as a “bargain” by online dealers.
Risks when buying a stolen car
For the period between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, more than 46 000 vehicles were reported stolen to the SAPS, while an additional 18 000 vehicles were hijacked in South Africa. Criminals would either opt to chop up these vehicles to use their parts, to sell them to those who had pre-ordered them or to unsuspecting clients in the second-hand vehicle market. Not only do you risk losing your money and the newly-purchased (stolen) vehicle if it is impounded, but the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) (2017) warns that your insurance claim will be rejected if you have a claim for such a vehicle.
Be alert when you buy a second-hand vehicle
So-called bargains often come with risks, and when it comes to buying a vehicle, you risk buying either a stolen vehicle or one that promises to have all the bells and whistles on paper, but hardly has a reliable engine or service record. Once you have decided on the type and make of vehicle you want to buy within your price range, do not only contact the first seller or dealer on the list. Do some research on the organisation or dealer by looking at consumer feedback forums and even social media to find out what their customer and after sales services entail (Cartrack, 2019).
Even when you are desperate to get your hands on another vehicle, you should never forget the following basics when buying a second-hand vehicle.
- Always buy from a reputable dealer
You limit the chances of buying a stolen vehicle when you buy from a reputable dealer since it would be in the dealer’s best interest to ensure that they do not buy or sell vehicles that have been stolen. Even if you buy from a dealer, there are various checks which a prospective buyer can run to limit the risk of buying a stolen vehicle (AA, 2017).