Driver SOS (UK)
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Car ringing - How to avoid it?
This is the term used for stolen cars that have had their identification numbers swapped with another vehicle. Usually these car identities have been replaced by a written off vehicle thus giving them a new identity. All cars have their VIN number under the bonnet, stamped in the floor of the car and even in the pillar of the door, boot of the car and at the base of windscreen. It’s worth finding out where the VIN is located on the particular make and model of the car you intend to purchase. You can then check to make sure the vehicle identification number hasn’t been tampered with. These cars will also have the location of the VIN replaced so make sure you speak to the car manufacturer.
Can I buy a vehicle that is a 'ringer'?
It is illegal to purchase a ‘ringer’ knowingly and if caught the insurance company have the legal right to the car. You will lose all money paid for the vehicle and the insurance company will have the car scrapped to recover any financial losses. If you buy a ‘ringer’ unknowingly you may be able to come to an agreement with the insurance company but remember that it is at their discretion.
What to do if you suspect a ringer?
If you are buying from a dealer then contact trading standards who will then investigate. If you are buying from a private dealer then you should contact the police. To spot a ringer, look at the paperwork - does V5 registration document look authenticate? It should have a watermark through it. Look for signs of over spraying especially on the trim and glass. Check to see the VIN numbers in all locations haven’t been tampered with.
Car ringing in the news
There was a story not too long ago about a car ringing mastermind. Due to a drug habit, a man ended up in stealing and selling ‘ringers’. He would often carry out burglaries and steal the car keys which he would eventually find another identity for before selling on. In some cases the cars that were stolen and then re-sold would be stolen again and sold on for more profit. Some of the cars he stole could have been targeted and sold on for up to 3 more times. In just a few years he had amassed a fortune of over £1.2m. However him and his accomplices were put away for 15 months to two years in prison.