Protecting Your Car’s Number Plate From Cloning When Selling Online

10 tips to protect yourself from cloning when selling your car online.
10 tips to protect yourself from cloning when selling your car online.

Number plate cloning, a form of vehicle identity theft where criminals duplicate a car’s registration number to mask their illegal activities, has become an increasingly prevalent issue in the UK. In fact, across England and Wales it is estimated that around 13,000 cases of number plate cloning occur each year. This number has seen a significant rise from 4,000 cases in 2018, demonstrating a troubling trend in vehicle-related fraud​. Private plate supplier Regtransfers offer 10 tips to protect yourself from cloning when selling your car online.

Use Anti-Theft Screws

Though not directly related to selling, Anti-theft screws are a great deterrent in general, and are designed to fasten your number plates in such a way that they cannot be removed with standard tools, making it much harder for thieves to steal or tamper with them. These screws are a low-cost, effective security measure that can be easily installed and serve as a first line of defense against cloning. Most thieves are opportunists looking for a quick and easy “score”, so making the process of removing your plates more convoluted can help deter criminals.

Blur Plates in Advertisements

When selling your car online, you should always blur or completely cover the number plates in any photographs you post. This prevents potential cloners from having a clear view of your number plates, which they could replicate and use to commit crimes. While this does have the undesired effect of making it a little more tricky for genuinely interested parties to validate the vehicle’s history, this simple step can significantly decrease the risk of your vehicle’s identity being stolen.

Regularly Check Your Vehicle’s Details

Regularly checking your vehicle’s registration details with the DVLA can help you spot any unauthorized uses of your number plate. This is a crucial practice, especially if you notice unfamiliar fines or toll notices, as it can indicate that someone else is using your number plate on their vehicle.

Be Cautious with Buyer Information

When engaging with potential buyers, it’s essential to verify their identity and ensure that their contact information is legitimate. This can help prevent scams where criminals pose as buyers to gather information about your vehicle and later use it for cloning purposes. Facebook Marketplace is a popular platform for quick and easy selling, but it’s always worth checking a prospective buyer’s profile for activity that suggests it’s a real person – interactions with friends, photos of themselves and so on. It’s also worth seeing when they set up their page, as a profile set up within the past year might suggest it’s a “burner” account – intended to be used in scams and discarded quickly to avoid being traced.

Secure Online Transactions

Using reputable online platforms that offer security features for transactions can protect you from many types of fraud, including number plate cloning. These platforms often verify the identity of both buyers and sellers, providing an additional layer of security. Where possible, try to avoid cash payments, unless you are able to visit a bank, with the buyer present, to make the deposit – a genuine seller shouldn’t object to this, while it may make fraudsters more nervous, as it’s a solid way to be notified of any fake notes being used.

Consult Professionals If Cloned

If you discover that your number plate has been cloned, it is advisable to seek legal advice immediately. Professionals can guide you through the process of reporting the cloning  to the police and DVLA, dealing with any fines or legal issues, and taking steps to prevent further misuse of your number plate. It’s important to act quickly so that you can build up evidence of your innocence, and that any offenses being carried out with your plates are not as a result of your own actions.

Use Trackable Shipping Methods

When you need to send out important documents or items related to your vehicle, using trackable shipping methods ensures that you can monitor their progress and receive confirmation upon delivery. This reduces the risk of documents being intercepted or lost, which could lead to cloning or other types of fraud.

Implement Physical Security

Enhancing the physical security of your vehicle, such as parking in a locked garage and using a vehicle tracker, not only deters theft but also makes it less likely that your number plates will be cloned. Visible security measures can act as a deterrent to potential criminals.

Report Suspicious Activity

Reporting any suspicious activity immediately to the authorities can help prevent the misuse of your number plates. This includes informing the police and the DVLA if you suspect that your number plate has been cloned, as they can take swift actions to mitigate any damage.

Educate Yourself on Cloning Tactics

Understanding the methods used by criminals to clone number plates can help you take proactive steps to protect your vehicle. This includes knowing the typical behaviors of cloners, such as targeting vehicles in car parks or residential areas, and the ways they misuse cloned plates.


With number plate cloning on the rise, sellers should adopt proactive measures to protect themselves. Boosting the security of your online advertisements, using advanced technologies, and promptly updating vehicle records can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to this sophisticated form of theft.

You May Also Like