Nobody wants to be scammed when buying a used vehicle, truck or car. You can avoid scams by doing your research, staying calm, checking facts and not getting drawn into deals that are “too good to be true.” AUTO Connected Car News interviewed Frank Scafidi, National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) spokesman about the recent frauds that NICB discovered including the use use of the OfferUp app to sell a stolen truck (Ford F-150) with a fake title and VIN number as well as a truck (Chevy Silverado with water damage that was sold as clean vehicle.
NICB discovered how connected car break-in technology is being used to not only unlock and open vehicles, but to also start and steal them.
A vehicle is a major purchase and car buyers are blinded by a cheap prices in scams, “Saving $2,000 now is not worthwhile because you may wind up spending $5,000 later in repair work or to replace it,” said Frank Scafidi, NICB spokesman.
In the case of flood-damanged vehicles that were in hurricanes or other natural disasters they can start off with a salvage title or are not reported as as damaged through an insurance claim. Then they can be processed through a state that does not have salvage titles and can be eventually sold with a clean title.
If you have any doubts about the vehicle, take your time and to inspect the vehicle carefully for signs of water damages or VIN number tampering.
How to Avoid VIN Fraud
Car buyers need to be careful when purchasing a used vehicle from someone advertising in apps, online or in newspapers such as the OfferUp app, Craigslist or local advertising.
When a seller is makes or attaches a new VIN number, it is usually in an obvious place on the dash in the vehicle. You can check the VIN in other places on the vehicle.
Additional VIN numbers often can be found on the doorjambs, under the hood and the glove compartment. You can look for tampering on the labels, newly applied labels and check to make sure all the VIN letters and numbers match. Taking photographs with your smartphone of the various VIN makes it easier to check to see if they all match by viewing them next to each other on the phone.
Local law enforcement agencies know where there is a hidden VIN number to determine if a vehicle’s VIN number has been fraudulently changed. This information is not available to the general public.
You can use the free NICB VINCheck system and a vehicle history report to look for red flags. CarFax can be helpful for instance if the VIN was from another vehicle the CarFax will show the mileage, service and accident records for the vehicle.
You can also have the title and VIN number checked by authorities before putting down any money.
Bring Trusted Help Along
It is very helpful to bring someone with you who knows about automotive sale transactions, when you purchase a vehicle says Scafidi. For example, often the paperwork supplied by the fraudster will have misspellings, incorrect VIN numbers and other obvious errors on the paperwork.
Cash & Carry Arrangements
Meeting with a seller in a safe zone such as police station is suggested by NCIB. However, criminals most often want cash and once the cash is handed over, there is not much a purchaser can do to get the money back.
In cases where consumers buy a vehicles with flood damage or incorrect VIN information through a legitimate car dealer, the dealership will often help the customer, says Scafidi.
Any place you buy a used vehicle, it is important to check everything up front, “Before you make a purchase, take your time. It’s better to verify and check as much information as possible to avoid buying a flooded, stolen, damaged or salvaged vehicle,” said Scafidi.
“When you check and compare VIN numbers and do your research on the overall condition of the car, it can save you from physical and financial disasters,” confirmed Scafidi.
NICB’s suggested things to check and areas for inspection for flooded vehicles before you buy:
- Carpeting for water damage.
- Rust on screws or other metallic items.
- Water stains on upholstery and seat belts.
- Under the spare tire.
- Mud or indicators of submergence in engine compartment
- Mud or moisture under dashboard.
- Water signes in headlights and taillight.
- Electrical components
- Mold or a musty odor
- Take to mechanic for under hood, chassis and other signs.