Skip to content
search button

Call us at
01768 217734

Cumbria Police
Contact Information
Cumbria Police
Contact Information
For police emergencies call 999
Report a crime online
For non emergencies call 101 - if unable to report online

Safely buy or sell a vehicle online, with expert help from Get Safe Online

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Peter McCall, is urging the public to protect themselves from auto fraud online scams.

For many people, the preferred way to buy and sell vehicles is online. This is often via dedicated vehicle advertising platforms, online marketplaces including social media or dealer websites. However, the cost-of-living crisis and shortage of some cars has given scammers more opportunities to commit auto fraud online.

To reduce your risk of falling victim to auto fraud:

  • Never pay large deposits or up-front fees – such as transportation costs – for a vehicle you haven’t seen and checked
  • Never allow prospective buyers to test drive your vehicle alone or be in possession of the keys. Make sure they have the appropriate insurance to drive it.
  • Being wary of unusually cheap deals or high deposits – If a deal or offer seems too good to be true, it could be a scammer and it is best to end all communication immediately.
  • Paying by credit card, where possible, and avoid making bank transfers – Paying by credit card often offers better protection, and a higher chance of getting your money back.

PCC, Peter McCall funds online safety experts Get Safe Online in Cumbria and comments: “As the cost -of-living crisis continues to tighten its grip, more people are looking to save money, often turning to buying and selling high-cost items, such as cars, online.

“There have always been risks associated with buying or selling a pre-owned vehicle online, but right now fraudsters are exploiting people who are trying to make savings, in order to make ends meet.

“If the price of a vehicle you see online seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“Get Safe Online, experts in online safety and security, have produced a comprehensive guide on how to prevent auto fraud, that provides advice on buying and selling vehicles safely online.

“By following some simple safety tips and expert help from Get Safe Online, people can buy or sell a vehicle online with safety and confidence. However, if you have become a victim of auto fraud or other crimes relating to vehicles, I urge people to report it immediately to the Police or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Kelly, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Online fraudsters will go to many lengths in order to carry out their criminal activity. Therefore, it is crucial that if you are buying or selling a motor vehicle online, you do so with care.

“As in many areas of fraud, if a deal seems too good to be true then please exercise caution as your instinct may well be correct.

“If you are selling a vehicle, ensure you are prepared. Have all the relevant paperwork together, such as the V5C, service history and MOT certificate. Never let the buyer photograph your documents, in case the request is fraudulent. Request the buyer’s contact details, such as their phone number and full home address, and proof of identity – a driving license is ideal. This should give you further reassurances, and a legitimate buyer should be happy to provide this information.

“If you would like more information on other types of fraud and the latest prevention advice, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter. Each month we take a look at different fraud types and provide you with information on how to protect yourself. The newsletter also covers what work we are doing to bring fraudsters to justice. To subscribe, visit”

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online comments, “More and more of us are buying and selling our vehicles online – which is convenient, and in most cases, straightforward, but it does come with risks.

“A vehicle represents a lot of money for anybody, and no-one ever wants to be duped out of their hard-earned cash by a fraudster. Before you buy a vehicle online, remember to follow some golden rules.

“See the car, test drive it and check its history before you make any sort of payment, even a deposit. Pay by card, never by bank transfer. Finally, if the price seems too good a deal, then it may not be genuine so avoid it. If you’re selling, make sure you have cleared funds before handing over the keys.

“For our comprehensive advice on buying and selling vehicles safely, visit and search ‘Buying & Selling Vehicles’.”

< More Latest News

Sign up to our newsletter

Cumbria Together Cumbria Together
The Bridgeway The Bridgeway
Cumbria Constabulary Cumbria Constabulary
Cumbria Police And Crime Panel Cumbria Police And Crime Panel
Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Association of Police and Crime Commissioners