Number plate cloning can be considered as identity theft and can put the car owners in do-a-deal situations and cost parking fines, speeding tickets or even allegations of criminal activity. Be it a lady left startled finding a similar car with an identical registration in a parking lot or a car has been observed speeding in London whereas the real owner of the vehicle was asleep 200 miles north in another city, number plate scams are on the rise at warp speed.
Research indicates 1 in 12 of the 37 million vehicles on the roads are at risk of being slapped with either cloned license plates or such registration plates which are tampered for shady purposes, in the likes of skipping fuel charges or for robbery. The bad news is, cloning number plates are pretty easily achieved by professional lawbreakers and can be obtained online, accounting for the increasing number of individuals and businesses offering issuance of registration plates without verification of the V5C registration certificate.
Purchasing Pre-owned Cars:
The IIATI (International Association of Auto Theft Investigators) had carried out independent research on purchase of used vehicles and endorsed in the Telegraph that buyers should thoroughly check out proper documentation before finalizing their purchase of a used vehicle, more so when they are sold privately and not by a registered trader. Dr. Ken German in his research has warned buyers to be wary of exceptionally low-priced offers for vehicles with superior specifications and cash-only transactions, especially when the seller is in a rush to sell.
Renowned motoring advice sources always encourage a paid background check or HPI of pre-owned cars which involve examining DVLA, police and other database records including color, registration date, number of owners and other details.
An official online HPI result should match with the details on the vehicle, in the likes of VIN numbers on the windscreen, by the front doors and the registration plate. Potential buyers should also verify the V5 registration of the vehicle before closing the deal.
Action Plan Upon Discovery of Registration Plate Cloning:
Upon discovery of possible cloning of your vehicle registration number, you should promptly return any parking or speeding tickets received back to the issuer with additional proof of the possible scam showing it was not for the original vehicle. Ensure to use a recorded, signed post for delivery.
Police recommendation encourages scam victims to communicate to the DVLA via letter or fax to get additional documentation included against the vehicle’s registration file indicating a possible clone.
The police also assist in trying to locate the cloned vehicle and the miscreants. It is advisable to reach out to your local police station in person or over the phone, or the emergency number. If you are aware of any criminal activity happening, inform immediately over the telephone.
Any reportedly stolen number plate will have a mark put against the registration of the vehicle in the Police National Computer (PNC). This indicates that the police will be on alert at all times whenever the registration number gets detected by static or mobile Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras (ANPR). Knowing number plate scams can happen to anyone, it is most likely to not be personal and rather carried out randomly.
Avoiding and Addressing Number Plate Scams:
Another method of scamming is to physically remove the number plate of your vehicle for the intention of carrying out unlawful, illegal as well as criminal activities. To prevent running such risks, using anti-theft screws which can be obtained free of cost from some police stations is strongly advised. You can also purchase anti-theft registration plates; though being expensive, they are safer since they break if someone forcibly tries to remove them. Also, placing a dash-cam will ensure proof of the scam, not involving the original vehicle or its owner.
Since number plate frauds and forgery are increasing by the day, vehicle owners need to take precautions to reduce the chances of being victims themselves. As with the crime rate, there is also a growing awareness of the possibility, DVLA and law enforcement organizations have been more considerate in dealing with such cases of victimization.