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Don't get caught by the car park scam

Carlton Boyce / 16 February 2016 ( 24 September 2018 )

Police have warned motorists not to respond to notes left on their windscreens that claim their car has been involved in an accident.

Cars in a car park
Police are warning motorists not to respond to notes left on their windscreens that claim that their car has been involved in an accident

While many of us have been driving for years without incident, there are criminals who target unsuspecting motorists.

Most scams are cleverly designed so that they're easy to fall for, and this one is no different. Please read it and share it with your friends because knowledge is power!

How to avoid the driving licence scam

How does it work?

Police have warned motorists not to respond to notes left on their windscreens that claim that their car has been involved in an accident.

The note goes on to give a name and a phone number for the driver to call. Those who do call are then pumped for personal information that police believe may be used for criminal purposes.

In a variant of this scam, the telephone number is a premium rate number set up by the fraudsters. Calling it will run up a huge phone bill as the criminals will do everything they can to keep you on the line for as long as possible.

Alternatively, you may have been targeted by a different breed of con-artist - someone who has damaged their own car and is trying to pin the blame on you. If the note you receive accuses you of causing damage to another car in the car park, don't be tempted to check your own car for scratch marks - they may have waited for you to start inspecting your car to snap pictures, which could be used as 'evidence' that you were aware you'd hit another vehicle. 

How to avoid becoming a target

If you return to your car and find a note on the windscreen, get in your car and immediately drive away from the area. Once safely at home, you should report the matter to the police, retaining the note for them to use as evidence. Never call the telephone number that you have been given.

The law around motoring accidents is very clear and you will be well within it if you report an alleged accident to the police; there is no legal obligation on you to call a telephone number left on your car at the scene.

Have you heard of the flash for cash scam?

Variations of the car park scam

Sadly but unsurprisingly, crimes of this nature show no sign of abating. In September 2018, we received an email from a reader warning us of a car park scam that saw his 95-year-old mother sent to a cash point to withdraw money for unscrupulous fraudsters.

'My mum parked in a supermarket car park and was approached by a couple who claimed she had damaged their car. They pretended to call their insurance company and then told her she needed to pay them £450 and they would wait while she went to the cash machine. She was in such a state that she did as they asked. She is now worried that they will try to contact her again. My sister has reported this to the police who will interview my mother as this is a pattern they recognise.' - Paul, via email

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If you fall victim to a scam

If you do fall victim, then you should contact the police immediately. Explain what has happened and give them any evidence, including the note if you still have it.

Have you fallen victim to a motoring scam? If so please get in touch so we can warn other readers - email your story to 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.