Number Plate Scams on the rise online - Please Beware

We recently featured in the Daily Express, providing advice on number plate scams to their readers. Since this information is proving to be so crucial, we also wanted to make sure that our readers are aware of the risks involved with buying or selling private number plates on Social Media sites.
13/10/2023 News
A thief using a fishing line to steal private plates. The bottom of the image shows the words 'Seller Beware'

Wondering how to sell a private number plate yourself? If you want to try to do so through online marketplaces, like those on social media, you could be at risk. Read on to be aware of the scams doing the rounds with helpful information on how to spot them and how to avoid falling for them!

The following scenarios are happening every day:

  • An innocent buyer places a ‘personal number plate wanted advert’. The scammer replies with a great plate at a good price, and the sale is conducted, often in a private conversation. However, once the buyer has made the payment, you guessed it… they never get their plate and lose their money.
  • A fraudster posing as a private plate buyer contacts a seller and convinces them to send them a photo of their certificate of ownership prior proving they have the plate for sale, before sending any money and never completing the sale. Just a picture is often enough to transfer ownership unwittingly.
  • A scammer lists a private reg for sale that they don’t own, often using someone else’s copy of entitlement as their proof of ownership. They could have obtained this using the scam in 2. above. Buyer sends the money and you can guess the rest, they are passed the stolen document or an image and the legal owner has no clue that their number plate has just been stolen and sold on.

These scenarios are pretty worrying, but there are easy ways to avoid them, just keep in mind the following safeguards:

  • Don’t share images of your certificate online, particularly over social media where people use false identities and untraceable burner phones.
  • Keep physical documentation in a safe place and check on it every six months. When you do this, ensure it’s still valid (in date).
  • Monitor your emails and check any online accounts you have with the DVLA have not been hacked by scammers and that your number plate details are still secure.
  • Use a well - established reputable agency (like ours) if you want to sell your number plate or have it valued. Be sure to check reviews on a third-party website for any business who you decide to trust with your personal information.
A DVLA retention certificate V778, with an arrow indicating that you shouldn't reveal your document reference number.

All of these tips are useful, but not sharing a copy of your certificate online is particularly important. Firstly, because this has personal information such as your own name and address on it. Secondly, because someone could contact the DVLA with the information on your certificate, and use this to claim your registration.

Essentially, the underlying issue is that selling a registration mark without involving a reputable intermediary requires a certain amount of trust. Either the seller will have to release the registration before receiving the money, or the buyer will have to send the money before receiving the registration. One way or the other, someone is leaving themself open to a scam. The only real way to get around this is to sell your number plate in person and see identity documents, or go through a recognised intermediary like Plates4Less.

Antony Clark, our Marketing Manager, had this to say:

These cases are on the rise. Buyers must triple-check that the seller is the legal owner of the registration mark before they part with any money.

If you are going to conduct a private sale then we would advise both parties to do so in person and at the address on the certificate. The seller should have photo ID at the address and of course, the validity of the documentation should be tested prior to money changing hands.

An important reminder for those offered a registration mark on social media at a price that is too hard to resist - If it seems too good to be true, it most probably is.

We wrote a piece last year on why you should consider listing your number plate through us last year, and now it seems more relevant than ever”

You can view the article here

If you are looking to sell your number plate, consider listing it with us, instead of risking it on social media. It’s a free service for sellers with many layers of security built in. We will protect your identity, secure the best market price for you and ensure you get your money once the sale is successfully completed, without the risks.

We recently broke the UK Private Plate sales record by selling a privately owned plate for over £600,000 and sSelling thousands of private registrations every week.

Plates4Less are the trusted experts who can help sell your number plate for its true value. We have 5 stars on Trustpilot and are the only registration agent who allows clients to see the final sales price on the website before you decide to sell. You get to see what the buyer will be paying including all taxes and fees on top of your proceeds, so you know that you are getting a good deal. We take less out of the deal than any other agent, hence Plates4less.