Totally new to this site so sorry if I make any mistakes...it is a bit of a saga.
December 2007 we get a new car on finance from a garage that sold second hand cars and could source and finance new ones. We were told that it was for 3 years and the repayments were going to be £300 a month. When we went to collect the car the agreement that my partner signed was for a 3 year finance, with a balloon payment at the end or give the car back deal. However the agreement said that the car we were getting was a different model (more expensive one) but the amount the car was worth and the 36 month term was correct. It stated we had paid no deposit, which was correct. We said the car model was wrong, so the guy that owned the place said that we should sign the agreement that was there, he ammended the model by hand and said an ammended copy would be sent out to us by post. Document was signed and we collected the car when the payments started they were £350 and we called and the finance company said that was the payments and its what we signed for, we were sure we hadn't but were pleased to have the car anyway. As we were living away from home at the time at uni we didn't notice we didn't get a copy of the agreement.
Anyway forward to August 2009. The police called us and asked about the man we bought the car from. Apparently he had used this mans credit card to pay the deposit for our car in the land rover garage he bought our car from. This man had ordered a car from him and wanted some special alloy wheels for it, so he gave him his details and assumed when the amount showed on his bill that this was for the wheels. However he never got his new car and when he checked with the garage found out it was used for the deposit for our car.
The police asked about out dealings with him, and if we were happy. As we had paid him no money, and got the car we had no problems so they didn't investigate our purchase much further. However as a result of using this card and other offences the dealer was charged with fraud and recieved about a year in prison.
Forward to this year. We are approaching December 2010 which is supposed to be the end of our finance. We were in a main dealers and they asked if we had a car to part exchange. We said we had a car with finance that was nearly up. So the man said he would ring and get a settlement figure so we could see if it was worth more than we still owed or if it would be better giving it back. He called us the next day and told us that the finance company said it was a 4 year agreement. So we called a few weeks later (I am not mad leaving it, I had a baby and pushed it to the back of my mind) and they said it was definetly a 4 year agreement. When we went to find out about the man that sold us the car we found out that he had actually gone to prison for the fraud related to the purchase of our car and other car dealings.
So alarm bells are ringing now, so I ring the finance company explain the story, and say the police didn't investigate us more as we had paid no deposit. The woman said "you have paid no deposit?" and I was like "no, why?" and she said that on their agreement they had that we paid a deposit. Obviously I knew we hadn't signed for 4 years anyway so something had gone wrong so requested the credit agreement with the signature be sent. They sent it asap and when it has come it is not my partner's signature. It is vaguely similar but noticeably not his signature (ie like the ones on his cards, driving licence etc etc).
The document is a bad quality copy but is a Hire Purchase Agreement regulated by the Consumer Credit Act 1974. The following things are wrong/ have been forged:
1. model of car is wrong
2. it says it is used...it was new
3.it says we paid a deposit of £1749.90 ....we paid nothing
4.the signature is forged
We are the registered keepers of the car. Where do we stand now? Obviously we do not have a valid credit agreement I would assume, but do we keep the car, get our money back?? Do I need a solicitor?
Both my partner and myself are professional people so I don't think we would have any problems proving we are telling the truth.
Any advice would be massively appreciated. The finance company know the signature is forged and have asked how we want to proceed. We were students during the majority of the agreement and missed payments so it has affected my partner's credit score.
Thanks for reading!