Nowadays it is quite easy to scan official documents such as identity cards and vehicle registration documents and to forge them using image editing software. So never completely trust documents sent by e-mail.
Always ask for the original documents when you meet the seller and match the vehicle identification number. It is typically located under the bonnet and embossed on the body of the vehicle. On many modern vehicles there is also a “visible VIN” on the front windscreen.
This is the only way to verify that the vehicle documents are those of the vehicle you inspect.
In some cases even this may not be sufficient. There have been break-ins into vehicle registration offices, with the thieves stealing blank registration documents which were then passed off to buyers as original documents after professional editing. Such forgeries are virtually impossible for the layman to tell apart from genuine official documents and are identified as such only at the reregistration of the vehicle. If it then turns out that the vehicle was stolen, the buyer cannot acquire the title of ownership and has to surrender the vehicle. Should the vehicle merely have been embezzled (not stolen!) from a car rental company, for example, the buyer may acquire the vehicle in good faith, but there will usually be a dispute about whether the buyer did actually acquire the vehicle in good faith. To really be on the safe side, the buyer and seller should meet directly at the vehicle registration office and reregister the vehicle there together.
Never provide your own documents electronically, as they might be misused for criminal purposes. This applies to both the vehicle documents and personal documents such as identity cards or bank documents like for instance receipts.
Before buying a vehicle, always make a critical assessment of expert reports on the vehicle’s technical status (e. g. service history booklet, exhaust emission test report and general inspection report) and the relevant stickers on the vehicle (particulate matter or general inspection stickers). There have been several cases where the seller forged the reports or stickers to mislead the buyer about the vehicle’s condition.
You have already made contact with a seller but you doubt that the reports and/or stickers are correct? Click here for assistance…
Take an extra careful look at the mileage reading. In most cars, clocking or mileage fraud can be done easily enough. Usually carried out via the OBD interface, it leaves no detectable traces. “Mileage correction” is offered all over the place and is quickly and readily available at low cost. According to police estimates, one in three used cars are sold in Germany with their odometers rolled back. So, before you buy a used car, take a good look and check if its appearance corresponds with the indicated mileage.
You have already made contact with a seller but you doubt that the mileage reading on the odometer is correct? Click here for assistance…