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How to stay protected when buying a car in another EU country


The ECC-Net publishes a report on cross-border car purchases and registration, together with recommendations to consumers on how to avoid fraud.

The European Consumers Centres Network (ECC-Net) has published a joint project report on cross-border car purchases and registration. The report gives consumers an overview of the steps that they need to follow in order to avoid falling prey to fraud when purchasing a car in a foreign EU-country.

In making its recommendations, the ECC-Net has drawn on its experience in handling complaints regarding violations of consumer rights and on testimonials received from consumers.

The ECC-Net recommends that consumers thoroughly check what is being offered, including whether the price of the car is comparable to that of similar models, whether the seller is acting lawfully, and that all the car's documentation is in order. When doing this, they can consult national online services offering background checks on vehicles.

Consumers should make sure that they are not buying a stolen car, and be careful not to take unnecessary risks when transferring the price to the seller (any form of prepayment is strongly discouraged).

The report specifically warns consumers about the two most frequent types of fraud in the area of cross-border car purchase and registration: odometer tampering – also known as 'clocking' – and 'cloning', which is the affixing of a false licence plate which is already registered to another car.

Consumers are also advised to pay attention to the quality of a car, by checking the inspection certificates, contracts of sale, and registration certificates.

The ECC-Net is a European network co-financed by the European Commission and nation governments with the aim of providing information, advice and assistance on cross-border shopping in the EU, Norway and Iceland.

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