By Alex TamblynBy Alex TAMBLINESWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Owners of a new car, whether new or used, are more likely to be victims of fraud than others, a new study showed, highlighting the challenges of protecting vehicles from theft and vandalism.
The study, published by the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday, found that owners of new vehicles, regardless of how many miles they drive, were more likely than others to be at risk of fraud, especially if they had fewer than 25,000 miles of vehicle ownership.
It also found that the rate of fraud was higher in the new cars than the old, and that fraud was more common in older vehicles, which are considered more valuable.
The FTC study was commissioned by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which represents about 3,000 dealerships nationwide.
“New cars represent a great opportunity for new and old buyers alike, but they represent a significant challenge,” NADA President Mark T. Brown said in a statement.
“In the 21st century, fraud and identity theft are increasingly difficult to detect, deter, or prevent, especially when used in combination.”
Fraudsters can easily manipulate a new vehicle owner’s credit score and drive them to make purchases they will regret, Brown said.
“The fact that they have to be willing to pay for a new model is going to make it a lot more difficult to sell a used car or a used truck,” Brown said, adding that the FTC study “highlights the need for automakers to adopt proactive policies and best practices to help protect their new owners.”
New vehicles are a great way to get into the auto industry, but the new study found that they are also a prime target for fraudsters.
The FTC study also found consumers who had used a vehicle in the past six months had a 57 percent higher risk of being the victim of identity theft than those who had not, and a 71 percent higher rate of being at risk for theft.
The survey was conducted by the firm NADA Consumer Solutions, a joint venture between NADA and a number of other organizations.
The findings were based on a survey of 1,000 consumers in the United States who had bought a vehicle from a dealership in the last six months.
The study’s methodology was similar to the ones used by the FTC, which said in 2016 that fraud and other types of fraud were the most common types of consumer fraud, and it was among the most cited consumer data sources.
In a statement, NADA said it “recognizes that the study demonstrates that fraudsters can and do use technology to compromise vehicles and drive owners to the point of making potentially life-altering purchases that would be otherwise unwise.”
The company said it is working to better understand the nature of fraud and the extent of its impact on consumers, including the impact on young consumers.
“While we are working to ensure that the consumer experiences our programs, the FTC’s study underscores that consumers should remain vigilant and take steps to protect their personal data and credit history,” Nada said.
“Consumers who are considering purchasing a new used vehicle should contact a dealership to verify the vehicle’s safety and performance, and follow all of our best practices.”
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Hay)