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Motorists at risk after loophole discovered in many data check services.
Thousands of motorists who believe they have discovered all there is to know about their car's history could be in for a surprise after a deficiency was discovered in many data checking services. Details of vehicles that have been stolen and recovered may not always be disclosed, leaving buyers in the dark about possible major problems.
mycarcheck.com, which is the only vehicle data checking company to routinely share information with the public on stolen recovered cars, believes it is important that motorists are given all the information available.
"All data suppliers take the Police stolen marker off a vehicle when it is recovered but we always inform our customers that the vehicle has been stolen and recovered. The information is available and the implications for the buyer are potentially disastrous. We feel people have a right to know." said Roger Powell, General Manager of mycarcheck.com.
"Was it damaged for example? Obviously it wasn’t a total loss but nevertheless the consumer has the right to know what they are about to put their family into."
"If it’s been stolen then it’s more than likely the car was taken with a key because more than 85% of cars are these days. Where are all the keys?"
"If someone buys a car that they are aware has been stolen in the past at least they would know to change the vehicle’s security."
Another problem, according to mycarcheck.com, could arise if the vehicle has been in the hand of criminals who might have used it to commit offences or left something in it. It could have been used to carry drugs or firearms.
Identity theft is also a major problem. Often, when thieves steal cars some of them just change the number plates but others will change the numbers stamped under the bonnet.
"The car might look fine but if the police stop you and look at the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and it looks as though it has been tampered with there could be a lot of explaining to do," said Mr Powell.
Around 175,000 cars are stolen and recovered in the UK each year, many of them having suffered some degree of damage.
One man, who fell foul of the information loophole, contacted mycarcheck.com for help after he found that despite being told by two other leading vehicle data checking companies that his car was OK it turned out to have been stolen. The motorist had recently bought a car at auction for £6,800. He paid additional auction fees of £265 which included the cost of a vehicle history check, which was carried out by the auction house using both Experian and HPI who also supply the RAC with their vehicle data.
As far as the buyer was concerned the car had been checked and he thought he had been told all there was to know. However, out of curiosity, he decided to carry out a check with mycarcheck.com on his phone and was 'dismayed' to discover the vehicle he had just bought had been stolen, damaged and recovered before being put up for auction.
"I was upset if I’d known the history of the car I certainly would not have bought it, especially at the price I paid," he said.
Phil Swift, a former policeman turned leading insurance investigator with Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) said it was alarming that only one data company routinely informs customers if a car has been stolen and recovered.
"As a member of the public you have a right to know whether your car's been stolen and recovered. If it is the case then there’s a hole in your car’s history which you can’t account for."
"It may have been in criminal possession for a day or six months but, your car’s been used by somebody who wasn’t registered as its user. It was taken by a criminal and you’ve no idea what it was used for."