The overnight digital evolution is not necessarily an overnight event. It has simply been forced on the industry as a response to the recent pandemic that locked everyone down. In many cases, consumers could not or would not venture to the brick-and-mortar dealership facility. Since a dealer must sell vehicles, the standard onsite, paper, or printed documents process morphed into offsite, digitally signed documents.
Going digital also means clearing some roadblocks for identity thieves, potentially making it easier to steal a victim’s identity and your dealer’s inventory.
Let’s call it what it is, a digital remote delivery.
I am confident that each of you have helped your dealership in implementing this new process. After all, many pocketbooks are affected if dealers don’t sell voluntary protection products.
Even with the advantages and benefits of moving into the digital remote delivery world, some risks have also amplified. Going digital also means clearing some roadblocks for identity thieves, potentially making it easier to steal a victim’s identity and your dealer’s inventory.
Remote Delivery Defined
A remote delivery is any transaction where the customer either lives outside of a dealer’s geographic footprint or the consumer does not step foot on the dealership’s property. Some ID theft cases involved customers who visited a dealership a few states away from the victim’s residence with manufactured identity and stips. In other cases, the ID thief conducted the entire transaction by phone and internet.
Identity Thieves are Scaredy-cats
Many police officials who specialize in identity theft tell me that most of these thieves want to steal and use a victim’s identity without potential confrontation. They also tell me that identity theft is the favored crime of meth addicts because the thief does not have to deal with someone face to face.
Caution – Remote Deliveries
If identity thieves truly are scaredy-cats, then digital remote deliveries fit their preferred method. Obviously, not every remote delivery is an identity theft, but the anecdotal evidence suggests fraudulent attempts are on the rise because of a dealership’s willingness to sell and deliver vehicles outside of the dealership.
Process – Remote Deliveries
The remote delivery process should be a separate and distinct part of your sales and F&I policy manual.
- Obtain and vet the credit application. The credit application is one of the first signals of a remote delivery. Another initial signal is when the customer is requesting a remote delivery. When the customer’s address is outside of the dealer’s geographic footprint, or the customer requests a remote delivery, immediately start the vetting process.
- Understand where the vehicle is going. Pull up a satellite image of the residence address. Be careful if you find a warehouse or a campground.
- Vet the identity provided. You are familiar with your state-generated identification, and maybe even neighboring states. You may not be so familiar with a state ID or driver’s license from another region. Use a search engine to view images of valid state ID or driver’s licenses. Ask for another photo ID. Confirm the wear and tear on the ID is consistent with the age of the ID. If the ID was issued three years ago and appears brand new, watch out. Alternatively, there are vendors who can vet the photo ID whether the customer is present or purchasing from remote.
- Complete the Red Flags review. Most dealers today use an automated process to conduct their Red Flags review. Ensure there are no red flags noted during the review. If there are any red flags, proceed with the clearing process and retain all documentation used to clear the red flags. Use the available out-of-wallet questions as an added precaution, particularly if the customer is not and will not be in the dealership. Some dealers have started leveraging the ability to Facetime or Zoom with the customer as another approach to verify the customer’s appearance vis-à-vis the identity provided.
- Complete the paperwork. For those customers who you have decided to ship the paperwork to, you should seriously consider using available services that will send a notary to the customer’s residence to complete the signing of all paperwork. Alternatively, the availability for e-signatures has exploded over the last few months, and in many cases the entire deal can be e-signed.
Taking some of these precautions can help your dealer to avoid the angst of identity theft.
Good luck and good selling!
Gil Van Over is the executive director of Automotive Compliance Education (ACE). He is also the founder and president of gvo3 & Associates.