File picture: Newspress.

JOHANNESBURG - A local insurance company has issued a warning to car owners about a new modus operandi in which motorists are being scammed into handing their car over to criminals under the pretense that it has been recalled.

According to King Price, the client receives a phone call, as well as a follow-up e-mail, from a phony dealership claiming that a safety recall was in place and that the company was sending a flatbed truck to collect the person’s car. This is made to seem very legit, as the scamster knows the client’s registration number and other personal details. 

The insurer said that in the last few months there had been an “alarming rise” in the number of theft syndicates trying to con motorists into handing over their car keys, or even their personal information. 

Also quite worrying is that many insurers won’t pay out for a vehicle theft that took place through fraud such as this, so the onus is on the car owner to ensure that the keys are never handed over to the wrong person.

“Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated. By targeting dealership records, they often have detailed info about you, like when last you took your car for a service and even how many kilometres you drive per month," said Jacques Victor of King Price.

“So they really sound slick and convincing when they call you”.

The insurer has the following tips for consumers to avoid being scammed:

1. If someone calls you claiming that your car is subject to a recall, contact the manufacturer or nearest dealer immediately. In the case of a genuine recall, the manufacturer will send you formal communication that describes the process in detail, the steps to follow, and how to verify what’s happening at every stage.

2. Under no circumstances should you hand over your car to a third party. If there’s a genuine recall, a car manufacturer won’t collect your car themselves, as the liability and risks are too high.

3. Never give out your personal information, or make any kind of payment, to anyone claiming to be from a car dealership or manufacturer. End the call or delete the email, and call the nearest dealership. Or the police.

IOL Motoring