Beware car recall scam and blue light hijackings are on the rise
Keeping you safe is important to us, that’s why we make it our priority to inform you of any information that can help keep you and your car safe.
The Insurance Crime Bureau (ICB) recently issued a car recall scam alert following a resurgence in the number of cases.
What is the car recall scam?
Criminals execute a recall scam by contacting unsuspecting car owners while posing as officials representing a car manufacturer. They convince the owners that their car is part of a batch being recalled due to some or other malfunction or mechanical issue. With the promise of a repaired or replacement car, many people buy into this scam.
The ICB says that initial contact is normally made telephonically, where a criminal posing as an official informs victims that their car is being recalled. This is often followed up with a spoof e-mail to make arrangements to collect the car with a tow truck. A couple of days later, the owner would typically phone the dealership for an update, only to discover that the car has in fact been stolen.
Tips to avoid becoming a victim:
- Limit the amount of personal information you share on social media and telephonically. Criminals use this to build a detailed profile of their victims.
- Be vigilant and maintain a healthy sense of scepticism when talking to strangers. Make every effort to verify that they are indeed who they say they are, and that they are an employee of the company they claim to represent.
- Check with the manufacturer and/or dealership directly to verify that the recall is legitimate. Don’t trust contact details provided by the person who called you.
- It is very unlikely that the manufacturer will send a tow truck to collect your car – in most cases they will expect you to bring your car to them.
- Report any suspicious calls to the authorities, the manufacturer and/or the dealership.
Furthermore, there has been an increase in higher value cars being targeted in hijackings largely attributed to syndicate operations using the blue light robbery technique.
What is the blue light robbery technique?
This refers to a method where criminals impersonate law enforcement officials in order to commit hijackings – it is also known as blue light robberies. If you are in such a situation, where an unmarked car with a flashing blue light is trying to force you to pull over, you should:
- Immediately switch on your hazard lights to acknowledge the person trying to pull you over, indicate that they should follow you and drive to the nearest police station or a busy public area.
What to do following the theft of your car
- If you have a car-tracking device installed, immediately call your tracking company to report the theft.
- Report it to the SAPS and file a stolen car report within 48 hours.
- Make sure you have the car details: model, colour, car identification and registration numbers etc. available to assist with the identification and recovery of the car.
- Report your claim to your insurance company. If your car is stolen after hours, call your insurance company on the next working day.
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