Beware of customers buying multiple cars on one debit card

A cautionary tale which we have unfortunately heard from a few dealers of late. 

The scenario is this. Customer purchases a vehicle. They pay with one, maybe two debit cards. They collect the car (but more usually ask to have it delivered) and are very happy. They are so happy in fact that they later look to purchase a second car. The previous sale went without issues, there have been no complaints and so you sell the second car. They may come back for a third or more. All is well. Then, out of the blue 3 months later, your bank take all the money for those cars out of your account and so you have no cars, no cash. 

The buyer has done a bunk and you are left with a fight on your hands to a) track down the vehicle and b) try and make a civil case that title never passed to your original buyer (the fraudster) and so you can have the car back. These cases are never straightforward as you, as a car dealer, can imagine as you could find yourself in the position of the dealer who has been the victim of the chargeback or you might be the dealer who purchased the car further down the line in good faith. Who wins? Well that is for the court to decide as the police will generally consider it a civil matter and each case can be determined on its merits as all these cases will have different facts despite being the similar bigger picture. 

Going forward, be aware that chargebacks can typically be made by a cardholder up to 4 months after a sale. Bank transfer is a much better option. If someone is buying multiple cars with debit cards, then ensure it raises a red flag, even when you have all the information needed for the bank to process the transaction and especially, if they ask to have the car delivered. 

If you have any doubts, err to the side of caution,  Lawgistics Members can get advice on this and other legal matters by contacting the legal team on 01480 455500.


Authors: Nona Bowkis

Published: 07 Jan 2020


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