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Fraud – The Latest Trends in the Auto Space

Updated November 2022

When it comes to insuring your vehicle, and finding the best insurance rates possible, keeping tabs on what is happening in the realm of car fraud is important. Last year we covered various related topics – how to protect yourself from fraud when buying auto insurance, avoiding fraud after you’ve been in an accident and preventing fraud when you send your car in for repairs.

With the recent release of the Top 10 stolen vehicles lists across the country and province by province (click here to get the list for Ontario), the Équité Association also released details about what the currents fraud trends are the in the auto space (source: Canadian Underwriter). Let’s take a look, shall we? {Note: these trends are continuing in the 2022 update of most stolen vehicles – check out the list here.}

Electronic Theft

Using your key fob

You might think that because your car is equipped with an electronic fob, you are protected from theft and the resultant auto insurance claim. While it’s true that the fob feature does make a car harder to steal, savvy thieves are finding work arounds. For example, one trend is thieves leveraging what is known as a “relay attack” – they intercept the radio frequencies of the fob and use them to program a new fob that will work with the car in question. Another popular way to program a fob is by using the onboard diagnostic system port of a car. While electronic fobs are a hindrance to thieves, they are no longer the deterrent they once used to be.

So what can you do? Don’t leave your fob out in the open in your front entrance. Pop it into a metal box or a pouch to diminish those radio frequencies.

Tapping into your ODP

If your car is a 1996 or newer, it’s likely you have an onboard diagnostic port (ODP) giving access to your vehicle’s electronic systems. Thieves have figured out how to use this to their advantage – once they have broken into your car, they then plug into the system and program a new fob. This is one of the most common methods for stealing a car in Ontario according to this article on the Canadian Underwriter.  Some ways you can prevent this kind of car theft include getting an ODP lock or installing a dummy ODP port. 

Tracking your vehicle

Another way that thieves are leveraging technology is by using tracking tags. They scope out a potential target, say in a large parking lot, and then using the tracking device they can then go back to the car at a place/time that is more opportune for a theft (say late at night with the car parked on the street).

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Fraud

All cars have VIN numbers. The trend that is increasing is thieves putting a fake VIN on the dash of a stolen vehicle, passing it off as legit to unsuspecting buyers. This is referred to as “re-vinning.”

So what can you do to protect yourself? When you’re buying a used car in Ontario, the seller must provide you with a package of information about the vehicle and its history. Consumers can then use this information in conjunction with the VIN to ensure that the information they are pulling up online with CARFAX matches what they have in hand. There is also a way to check online whether the VIN of the car you are considering has been listed as stolen – head over to the website of the Canadian Police Information Centre.

It’s very important to do this due diligence when buying a used car. If the vehicle you have bought is later found to be stolen, the car will be seized and you will be out of pocket for what you paid. You won’t be receiving any compensation – it’s on you.   

SUVs on top

When it comes to to the types of vehicles that are stolen, SUVs come out on top by far. Thanks to their popularity, SUVs are a target for thieves, who then export them for resale. Another trend is stripping the vehicle down and selling the parts. Or they may keep the vehicles to resell them to consumers as we discussed above.

Generally speaking in Canada, SUVs topped the list for auto theft insurance claims, followed by sedans, trucks and then way down the list, vans. (You can see the full breakdown of the stats here).

Did you know that across Canada, Ontario has the second highest per capita vehicle theft rate? As a driver in Ontario, you need to do what you can to protect your car from theft and avoid that insurance claim. Even if you aren’t driving a car that’s on the Top 10 list, you still need to take precautions. Check out some of these posts from the archives for some more tips and tricks for preventing theft and protecting your car…

Resources referenced for this post from the Canadian Underwriter:

Here are the latest trends in insurance fraud

SUVs are top Canadian auto theft target in 2021

Brokers: These tips can help clients avoid getting their cars stolen

Have any questions about the latest trends in vehicle theft and how this can affect your auto insurance premiums? Want to learn more about how the car you drive influences the rates you pay? Check out our online auto insurance quote tool or reach out to one of our Ontario auto insurance specialists – we’re here to help you find the best rates!

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