Consumers have been warned by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) not to rely on the printed version of new-style MoT certificates when buying cars.
TSI, whose members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and businesses, has issued the warning after a 38-year-old man was arrested by Cleveland Police in north east England on suspicion of forging MoT test certificates with intent to deceive. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries by the police.
TSI’s motor trade lead officer Gerald Taylor said that new style MoT test certificates are causing concern to police and trading standards because of the ease with which they can be fraudulently reproduced, and that there is a lack of awareness about the fact that paper documents are no longer proof of existence of a valid MOT certificate.
Mr Taylor said: “When the new certificates were first implemented in October 2011 they were only intended to be a receipt for the MoT. The actual record and full details are stored online at the VOSA website, which can be accessed by going via the www.direct.gov.uk website.
“A public awareness campaign has never been launched by the Department for Transport explaining exactly what members of the public should do. When the new system went live, the Trading Standards Institute voiced its concerns to the Minister of Transport and was been assured that this will be taken into consideration when the progress of the new system is reviewed later in 2012.
“We are concerned that motorists still do not know that paper certificates are no longer proof of existence of a valid MoT certificate.
”The downloaded certificate in its present form can be altered and abused at will using the simplest of software available on nearly every personal computer. Purchasers – whether private or trade - should NOT rely on printed MoT certificates when buying cars. There is also the possibility that unscrupulous traders, and service and repair outlets, could agree to MOT a vehicle and charge accordingly but not carry out the test at all – the prospective purchaser would be none the wiser unless they go online.”
Mr Taylor emphasized that the only way to ensure a vehicle has been MoT tested is to check online.
He said: “To do this the consumer will need the serial number of the MoT Certificate or the serial number of the V5. Extra vigilance should be exercised when purchasing older cars, ensuring an online check is always made prior to finalising the purchase.”
He had this advice for prospective purchasers: “A reasonable seller would probably show a consumer the online check there and then as it is of no additional cost to the seller. If the seller won’t do this or wait until the consumer has completed an online check themselves our best advice is to walk away from the deal.”
Members of the public should report any information regarding the fraudulent use of MoT certificates to their local police using the non-emergency 101 number.