TransUnion, a credit protection company and South Africa’s first vehicle valuation & verification app ,FirstCheck, have collaborated to launch South Africa’s first consumer-focused vehicle checking app. The app contains information on vehicles that are originally only available to dealers. The new FirstCheck app will help consumers learn from the past to navigate the present. One of these important features is a valuation report, which can be easily accessed to know the estimated value of the vehicle.

“Buying a car is one of the most important investments anyone makes, and if it goes wrong, it can have a devastating ripple effect on quality of life and finances,” said Kriben Reddy, head of TransUnion Auto in South Africa. “A lack of knowledge of hidden faults, fraud or a suspect service book is generally caused by a lack of insight into the full history of a vehicle. We want to put the right information in the hands of consumers so they can make better, more informed decisions.”

“Access to information is levelling the playing field and putting power back into the hands of the consumer. A bank may still be holding finance on a car that has been sold – meaning that bank is for all intents and purposes the owner. People are then tricked by a fraudster into paying cash and they drive the car away only for the bank to report that car stolen. A lot of people are being caught out this way, with devastating consequences,” said Reddy.

The application also has a direct link into the South Africa Police service database, so a would-be purchaser can check in real-time if a car has actually been reported stolen. Price remains a common stumbling block for many, and the app provides both trade and retail values to ensure the price being offered on a car as a trade-in is its true market value.

“This assures a car buyer that the car they are interested in buying is being offered to them at a fair price. They are also able to monitor the car’s value on a monthly basis in order to ensure that their insurance premiums are always in line,” said Reddy.

Apart from notifying them if the car is stolen or not, the report also highlights any discrepancies from the manufacturing specifications. FirstCheck matches the VIN and Engine number supplied to a manufacturer database and provides results based on the match.

“A car buyer will receive one of the following confirmation results: Match, No Match or Partial Match. A No Match could mean that FirstCheck does not have a record of the car on the database or incomplete information has been provided,” explained Reddy.

The report also tells a purchaser if a car has been “microdotted” – this is a marking system where thousands of dots, invisible to the naked eye, act as an enhanced car theft deterrent.

Industry risks are real, so greater awareness is the solution. “We firmly believe if consumers keep building on good choices, they will continue to create solid opportunities,” concluded Reddy.