Trading Standards officers have warned of the dangers of buying from used car dealers pretending to be private sellers on Facebook.
Officers said that they had seen a ‘large number’ of used car dealers using social media sites to advertise privately.
However, these cars are often plagued with faults and, since they’ve been sold privately, can’t be returned or repaired by the original seller as would be the case with a vehicle purchased from a legitimate car dealership.
Speaking to Car Dealer Magazine, Chris Hill, senior investigations officer for National Trading Standards, said that he had conducted a probe of more than 2,500 car adverts on Facebook in Wales and found that they had been posted by only 432 individuals.
Hill added that one of the users had advertised 90 cars during the six-month period of the probe and was ‘clearly a motor trader’. In fact, more than 100 of the users advertised more than 10 cars via Facebook.
By law, dealers are required to label adverts ‘trade’ so that buyers know they have consumer rights, such as being able to return a faulty car or have any issues resolved by the retailer.
Hill said: “This problem emerged a few years ago as we started to get a lot of complaints from people regarding vehicles they had purchased on social media.
“These are usually for lower value vehicles – around the £500 to £2,000 mark – or what the trade likes to call “end of life cars”.
“The problem comes when there is an issue with the car and the trader should have been liable but the consumer has nowhere to go. Some of these cars were still being sold in pub car parks and lay-bys and the buyers didn’t know who they were buying from.
“We would like Facebook to ensure that traders mark themselves up as traders so that when consumers have a problem they ultimately know who they are dealing with and know that they have their statutory rights.”
National Trading Standards told Car Dealer that it believes that the issue has become far more widespread and is asking Facebook to help weed out these traders posing as private sellers. At present, the social media site has no functionality to allow buyers to flag sellers who may be posing as private individuals.
A spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said: “This is an industry-wide issue and scammers are using increasingly sophisticated methods to defraud people in a range of ways including email, SMS and offline.
“If someone believes they have spotted content or an account they believe to be fake, they can report it using our in-app tools. We have a trained team of reviewers who check these reports 24/7 and move quickly to remove content or accounts which violate our guidelines.”