When you think of identity theft, you might think it is strictly an online crime. However, in the past two months, two auto dealer clients reported cases involving identity thieves using fake documents to purchase vehicles. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold of our communities, fraudsters and criminals are taking advantage. They can see that many dealerships have a skeleton staff who are tired and stressed about their health and welfare and that of their loved ones.
Criminals and fraudsters play on the vulnerabilities within society. As more dealerships are transacting business online, it is essential to be mindful of the risks that these fraudulent acts pose to your business operations. In this unprecedented time, it is important that you and your staff remain vigilant.
Below is a client story of how an identity thief attempted fraud.
In mid-March of 2020, a customer contacted a dealer inquiring about an ad on Auto Trader. The deal solidified over the phone, and the sales rep transferred the customer to the Finance Manager to review financing and extended warranty.
The Finance Manager waited on the customer to review everything with their spouse over the weekend. The customer called first thing Monday and claimed to be having “family issues” and asked the sales rep to drive the vehicle to a meeting place in Southern Ontario instead of pick up at the dealership. There was some discussion throughout the day to organize a time and meeting place. The customer was aware that, due to COVID-19, the dealership was short-staffed and delivering a vehicle would be a challenge. Regardless, the dealership accommodated their client and delivered the vehicle.
Upon returning to the dealership, the sales rep noticed that the bank info / lien holder on the confirmation of insurance did not match the financing information. The sales rep called the insurance company on the certificate to verify the information. Identity theft had occurred as there was no such name on file. Authorities were immediately contacted, and due to the vehicle having GPS capabilities, the vehicle was found and returned to the dealership.
It was confirmed that the Certificate of Insurance was fake, and the criminal used a doctored Driver’s License.
Protect Your Dealership From Falling Victim to Fraud
It is important to work together as a team to minimize your risk of falling victim to a fraudulent attack. In sharing the story above, it is our hope that learning from these situations can help you better prepare your team for these circumstances.
Conduct regular crime and fraud prevention training with your staff. For tips on how to spot identity thieves either online or in your store, Connect with your local authorities like the dealers in the community of Kingston, Ontario. According to this Global News report, Police are seeing an increased level of sophistication and more effort put into creating fake identities that pass credit checks. As each incident is unique, education and constant communication with your team is your best form of defence against these criminals.
Thank you to our client for allowing us to share their story and help others learn and prepare for fraudulent crimes.
As your broker, we are here for you. Please do not hesitate to reach out with your questions and concerns.