5 Ways to Avoid Becoming the Victim of Curbstoning in an Auto Sale
Most lemon laws apply to dealers only, not to private sellers. Because of this some unscrupulous dealers attempt to sidestep the laws altogether by using a system called curbstoning.
Large auto dealers are expected to sell cars that meet certain criteria that have been put in place to protect consumers. This may include providing a warranty that will cover the buyer’s costs if a car turns out to be a lemon. Unfortunately, some unethical dealers may attempt to bypass these laws by curbstoning.
What is curbstoning?
Curbstoning is when a dealer poses as a private seller to sell a car. By curbstoning, a dealer can avoid having to comply with the same regulations dealers are upheld to. To a buyer this could mean buying a car that has a salvaged title. It could also mean unknowingly buying a car that has been in a flood and suffered severe water damage.
The term curbstoning comes from the manner in which transactions like this typically occur. When a dealer is trying to pose as an individual they will often sell cars from the curb, a parking lot or other similar places, just as a private seller would. A curbstoner often gets away with scamming buyers because they sell the vehicle and disappear. With no office or contact information, a buyer can end up with a lot of headaches to deal with.
How can I protect myself from curbstoning?
By knowing what curbstoning is you have taken the first step in protecting yourself from it. Next, it is important to be conscious of where you purchase cars from and the details you get from the seller. Here are 5 tips to help you avoid being the victim of a curbstoning scam.
Tip #1 – Avoid buying cars off the side of the road
Be cautious of cars that are for sale and sitting on the road with “For Sale” signs on them. Abandon parking lots or even shopping mall parking lots are also places that curbstoners tend to do business.
Tip #2 – Be cautious of the classified ads
While you can get good used vehicles from traditional classified ads, know that this is also a place that curbstoners may advertise their cars for sale. When reviewing classified ads take note of the phone number listed in the ad you are looking at. Then look at some of the other ads on the page. If you find several other ads with the same number, it could be a sign of curbstoning.
Tip#3 – Ask to see the title
Before you buy any used vehicle you should ask to see the title. Looking at the title should tell you whether or not the car has been salvaged or if it has been the victim of water damage.
Tip#4 – Match the driver’s name on their license to the name on the title
As you are looking at the title, check to make sure the seller’s name matches with the name on the title. Ask to see their driver’s license to compare. If the names do not match, you should be asking why.
Tip#5 – Get the car inspected before you buy it
Lastly, many curbstoners will try to rush the sale and not allow you to get the car inspected before you buy it. Before you exchange any money, be sure to have the car inspected by your own trusted mechanic.
If you believe you bought a vehicle from a dealer posing as a private seller, you may have been the victim of curbstoning. In this situation, you may have a civil case against the dealer and may be able to get your money back. Consult with an attorney to learn the facts about auto sales and curbstoning so you can report the incident, protect future buyers and get justice for yourself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kenneth Hiller
Kenneth Hiller is the founder of The Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller. With offices located in the Buffalo and Rochester, NY areas, his firm specializes in Social Security Disability, Consumer Protection and Lemon Law cases.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.