Purchasing a used car can sometimes be risky because you’re not always going to be sure about the vehicle’s history.  Some used car dealers may take advantage of consumers by using fraud or misrepresentation to sell a car.  Such faulty car sales are known as used car scams, and can involve:

  • Cloned vehicles:  A cloned car is one that has had its VIN (vehicle identification number) replaced with another VIN, often to conceal the fact that it’s a stolen car
  • Defective titles:  There may be some defect or misrepresentation regarding the car’s title (for example, selling the same title to two different purchasers)
  • Misleading Brand History: The brand history describes the car’s previous or current condition, such as junked or salvaged
  • Faulty Parts:  It can be difficult to tell whether all the parts are in working order 
  • Stolen Cars:  If the car turns out to be stolen, you may not be able to register it with the DMV
  • Insurance Fraud:  There may be issues regarding insurance
  • Any other form of misrepresentation when selling the vehicle, such as fake documents or fake sales licenses

Thus, you should be aware of these and other types of schemes when attempting to purchase a used car.  It helps also to search different automobile databases such as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) before purchasing a car. 

What if I’ve Been a Victim of a Used Car Scam?

If you’ve been part of a used car scam, you may be able to file a claim against the party that sold you the car.  You should take the following steps:

  • Keep and make copies of any receipts, documents, and forms that you may have signed in connection with the sales
  • Take note of the party that sold you the car, being sure to list contact information, addresses, and the business license, if possible
  • Compile and information or testimony from witnesses or other persons who may have been scammed
  • Compile any documents related to any injuries you may have suffered from a defective automobile

One of the difficulties with used car scams is that the buyer may be put on notice that the car isn’t in 100% condition.  Thus, you should beware of any language in a contract or document that sounds suspicious.

Another aspect of used car scams is that the perpetrator of the scam may be difficult to track down after the sale.  For example, the scammer may simply leave the community to a different one, or they may have been operating under a fictitious name.  Be sure to act quickly before these difficulties arise.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Involving Used Car Scams?

Automobile laws can often be complex, and may vary from state to state.  If you suspect that you have been affected by a used car scam, you may wish to contact a products liability attorney for advice.  An experienced attorney in your region will be able to provide you with sound advice and can help you file a claim in court.  You may be able to obtain a damages award to compensate you for your losses.