Avoiding fraudulent sellers claiming to use the Auto Trader Buyer Protection Programme

Fraudulent adverts are placed by thieves posing as sellers, often involving a hoax vehicle at a bargain price, a faulty phone number and demands to transfer money abroad. They use the Auto Trader brand by claiming that Auto Trader has a buyer protection programme. This is a scam. Auto Trader is an honest broker between buyers and sellers which means that we in no way get involved in the purchase or sale of any vehicles.

What to do if you think you’re a victim of a scam

If you think you’ve been targeted by a fraudster, contact Auto Trader immediately by emailing

Should you have any queries about a buyer/seller that you think maybe suspicious please contact Crime Line by SMS on ‘32211’ or contact the police.

Typical scenario’s to look out for:

Be cautious if:

Scam emails

It has been brought to our attention that a scam email is being sent out to Auto Trader customers, which reads:

"Hi Costumer,
We have received an unusual activity on your Auto Trader account. Please follow the link below to update your account.
Update Your Account (DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK!)
Please note that the link will expire within 24 hours of receipt.
Please wait a few second to loading the page.
If you need any further assistance, please contact our Customer Services team by that link."

The email prompts the user to enter their user name and password, which suggests that the scamsters are trying to gain access to customer Dealer Edit profiles or a private advertiser user profile. Their intensions may be to load scam adverts onto the website to scam buyers into parting with something of value with them.

Please note that Auto Trader will never send our advertisers or consumers an email or SMS asking them to enter or verify their login credentials. If you are aware of any customer who has fallen victim to this scam then you need to immediately contact our online support team on 08 60 60 50 50 or e-mail for assistance.

What does Auto Trader do to ensure safety and security?

Auto Trader urges motorists to be vigilant and take note of their helping hand section which appears weekly in the Auto Trader magazine as well as on under Site Safety & Security. This provides the public with tips on safety and security as well as information on what to expect when buying or selling a vehicle and how to deal with the viewing process to avoid being caught out.

This acts as a guideline and we urge the public to be vigilant and take the necessary safety precautions.

Auto Trader takes this type of fraudulent activity seriously and we are working with the SAPS and the Commander of Organised Crime to bring this individual to justice. We added new functionality to our website where you the consumer can report a fraudulent advert to our customer service team to reduce the fraudulent scams.

Top tips to avoid fraudulent sellers:

  1. Auto Trader will never by way of email or sms ask you to enter and verify your login credentials. Do not enter these and if you are unsure - rather contact us to find out.

  2. Payment:
    Never wire money abroad or pay a large deposit and don’t hand over money until you’ve seen the vehicle and are satisfied it and the seller are genuine. The Auto Trader website does not support an Auto Trader Buyer Protection Programme. Auto Trader is aware of fraudulent buyers proposing PayPal as a method of payment, often offering the entire value of the vehicle without viewing the vehicle. In our experience this is a scam, using accounts created with fraudulent credit card details. To protect yourself request that an interested buyer always meets you and views the vehicle in person. Never hand over the vehicle keys until your bank has confirmed the full value of the vehicle has cleared into your bank account.

  3. Price:
    Check the vehicle’s market value by getting a valuation or comparing the price with other similar models on – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  4. Visit the seller:
    Never buy a vehicle without seeing or driving it first and always view the vehicle at the seller’s home, checking the address matches the one on the Natis or Road Worthy Certificate registration document (logbook).

  5. History check:
    A history check can confirm registration details, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and tell you if a vehicle is recorded as stolen or is subject to outstanding finance.

  6. Paperwork:
    Ask to see the logbook, service history and Road Worthy Certificates and examine them thoroughly before handing over any money – make sure all documents are the originals and not photocopies.

Beware: Buyer Protection - Example of a recent scam:

Auto Trader Buyer Protection Programme is the best method to make the transaction.

Here’s how it works:

  1. I will start the transaction which will falls under Auto Trader Buyer Protection Programme, managed by Auto Trader, and they will send you a confirmation email with the payment instructions and delivery information.
  2. You will send the payment according to the Auto Trader rules. I'm a TrustMark Seller with Auto Trader, so your payment is fully refundable.
  3. The car will be delivered to your location (shipping is already included in the price, you won't have to pay extra).
  4. You will also be provided with a tracking number of the shipment which you can check anytime you want.
  5. You will receive the car in 2 days, and you will have a 10 days inspection period to test it. During this inspection period you can drive it, take it to a mechanic, you can do anything you want with it, just don't wreck it.
  6. If the car is what you expected, you will just have to sign the documents. If not, Auto Trader will fully refund you your payment at your request and they will send the car back on my expense. I know the condition of this car, and you will be very satisfied, I am pretty sure of this.



A scam sms asking users to re-activate their account by following a link. The link asks the user to divulge their login credentials.


If you think you’ve been targeted by a fraudster, contact Auto Trader immediately by emailing
Should you have any queries about a buyer/seller that you think maybe suspicious please contact Crime Line by SMS on ‘32211’ or contact the police.