Stay Safe Online

VSTAG members take safety and security seriously. We are committed to protecting you when you use our online products and services.

Online crime is increasing and criminals are constantly looking for new ways to access personal information.

Like any other online business the process of buying and selling cars can attract fraudsters. Don’t get taken in! Our information will guide you on how to stay safe online, how to spot a scam – and the warning signs to look out for.

Click on the points below for more information.


What is Phishing?

Phishing is a way of trying to obtain your personal information and log in details. Fraudsters will send phishing emails in an attempt to obtain your personal information such as username, passwords or financial information.

How does Phishing work?

A phishing email may look like it has come from a legitimate website and will ask you to confirm your log in details via a link in that email. This link will take you to a fraudulent webpage which will imitate the legitimate website, asking you to log into your account. If you enter your username and password into the fraudulent webpage, these details will be captured by the fraudster enabling them to access your online accounts.

What to look out for

Phishing emails can be difficult to spot. Always remember that none of the VSTAG Partners will ever ask you for your log in details or any other personal information such as your password, and will never ask you to verify your account information by clicking on a link.

If you receive any suspicious emails claiming to be from a VSTAG Partner and asking for account information, please forward this on to customersecurity@vstag.co.uk


What is SMiShing?

SMiShing is short for “SMS Phishing” and is a way of trying to obtain your personal information and log in details via SMS text message. Fraudsters will send SMiShing texts in an attempt to obtain your personal information such as username, passwords or financial information. This type of scam can also be used as a security attack in which the user is tricked into downloading malware onto their mobile device, i.e. mobile phone or tablet.

How does SMiShing work?
A SMiShing message appear to be from a legitimate company or may be sent as an enquiry about your vehicle and will ask you to follow a link to confirm the details they hold are correct. When clicked, the link will take you to a fraudulent webpage which will imitate the legitimate website asking you to log in to your account. If you enter your username and password into the fraudulent webpage, these details will be captured by the fraudster and enable them to access your online accounts.

How to spot this type of scam
Always remember that none of the VSTAG Partners will ever ask you for your log in details, or any other personal information such as your password. You will also never be asked to verify your account information by clicking on a link.

If you have any concerns about an SMS text message you have received claiming to be from a VSTAG Partner, please contact customersecurity@vstag.co.uk


Fraudulent Payments

Fraudulent Payments can come in a manner of different formats:

Counterfeit Money
Counterfeit Money is imitation currency produced without the legal sanction of the government.

What to look out for
Be very careful about how and where the exchange of cash and the vehicle takes place. Ask for the cash to be handed to you in a bank, where notes can be checked for forgeries and paid in immediately.

Forged Cheques and Bankers Drafts
How do Forged Cheques and Bankers Drafts work?
A typical scenario for this type of scam is as follows:

  • The seller received a cheque from the buyer and gives them the vehicle
  • The seller cashes the cheque to be told days later that the cheque was forged
  • The buyer has possession of the vehicle and the seller is left without payment

What to look out for
Be particularly wary of buyers who view your vehicle after the banks have closed and produce a bank draft already made out for the full asking price. Don’t release your vehicle until you have confirmation that the cheque or bankers draft is genuine and has been paid into your account by the buyers’ bank. Check with your bank to ensure the cheque or bankers draft has been “given value” rather than simply “cleared”.


Fake Escrow Services

What is an Escrow Service?
An Escrow Service mediates between a buyer and seller as follows:

  • The buyer transfers the payment to the Escrow Service
  • The buyer takes delivery of the goods
  • The Escrow Service releases the payment to the seller
  • Fraudulent Escrow Services appear to be legitimate but are run by fake “sellers”.

How do fake Escrow Services work?
The “seller” places a fake advert with an unusually low price to grab the buyers’ attention. When the buyer enquires about the vehicle, they’re sent a standard reply promising to waiver the shipping costs and suggesting payment is made via a particular escrow service. After the payment is made, the buyer doesn’t receive the goods and the seller becomes impossible to contact and untraceable.

What to look out for
The signs of a fake Escrow Service include false license numbers, logos and copyright details, as well as a mobile phone number disguised as a foreign landline.

Avoid sites which don’t have a padlock icon at the bottom of your screen and an https:// at the start of the website address, this means that site is not secure.

A legitimate Escrow Service will never ask you to wire funds directly to a third party. If you’re suspicious of an Escrow Service, type the name of the providing company into a search engine. A legitimate Escrow Service will have a number of results listed, whereas a fake Escrow site will have very few.


Things to remember when making payments for vehicles:

  • Never send money abroad
  • Never pay a large deposit
  • Don’t hand over your vehicle until you’re satisfied the funds are in your account – check with your bank that you can withdraw funds safely on the cheque
  • Your bank will not honour fraudulent drafts or drafts that cannot be cleared through lack of funds
  • Don’t be pressured into releasing your vehicle – a genuine buyer should not mind waiting until the draft has cleared

Things to remember when taking payments for vehicles:

  • Cash Payments – Ask for the cash to be handed to you in a bank, where notes can be checked for forgeries and paid in immediately
  • Cheques / Bankers Drafts – Never let the buyer take your vehicle until the funds have appeared in your bank account to ensure the cheque isn’t forged, cancelled or stolen
  • Online Bank Transfers – This is one of the safest methods of payment as it avoids handling large amounts of cash and the problems associated with cheques

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