Post Content

 

shutterstock_622092908Consumers often consider buying from a private seller as an alternative to buying from a used car dealer. An increasingly common scam involves dealers posing as private sellers and posting vehicles under the “for sale by-owner” section of Craigslist or on social media sites such as Facebook.  This practice is also known as “curbstoning.”

One version of this scam involves licensed dealers who partner with an unlicensed individual who poses as the vehicle’s owner. The “owner” creates a ad or a post offering the car for sale. The seller completes the transaction somewhere other than the dealership, but the name of the dealership may not be on the title and purchase documents. Then, if the buyer contacts the seller about problems with the car, the seller says it was never their car. If the consumer contacts the dealership, the dealer may say that they’re not responsible because the car was sold offsite.

Another version of this scam involves unlicensed dealers who fraudulently purchase cars at wholesale auctions by paying a licensed dealer to use their auction license number.  They may also obtain their cars through a title skipping scam in which they target individuals who need to sell their car quickly, pay a low cash price for the car and re-sell it for a much higher price without putting their own name on the title. According to Massachusetts state law, anyone who sells more than three cars in a twelve month period is considered a dealer and must have a Class 2 dealer license.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation can provide helpful information to consumers who have been victimized by these types of scams:

  • Print out a copy of the ad. It may come in handy if the original post has expired. Even if we can’t connect the unlicensed seller with a licensed dealer, the unlicensed seller must participate in a Lemon Law hearing if they sold three or more cars or if they took a fee to sell the car for someone else.
  • Attempt to contact both the seller and the dealership (if you have the dealerships contact information). Regardless of where you bought the car and whether it was new or used, you may have rights under the state’s Lemon Law protections. If the car has over 125,000 miles then the dealer is bound by the Implied Warranty of Merchantability.
  • Contact the licensing authority for the city or town where the dealership is located. Selling cars in the scenarios previously described is illegal and dealers can lose their licenses, and both licensed and unlicensed dealers can be fined.
  • Contact our office. We recently assisted five consumers who had problems with cars they purchased on Craigslist, and who thought they were buying from private sellers.
  • Check out our blogs on curbstoning and private party sales. The information can help you determine if you might be buying a car from a curbstoner.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

 

 

 

 

Written By:

Recent Posts

Flood-Damaged Cars posted on Sep 25

Flood-Damaged Cars

  Hurricanes have wreaked havoc on the United States over the past few weeks, tragically resulting in lost lives and homes. Many residents also saw their cars destroyed from rising flood waters. Industry experts are estimating around 500,000 to 1 million vehicles were damaged by   …Continue Reading Flood-Damaged Cars

Uber Scam posted on Sep 25

Uber Scam

  Our Office’s consumer specialists recently received a call from a distraught Uber driver who believed he had been scammed. He explained that he received a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative from the rideshare company and was asked to provide personal   …Continue Reading Uber Scam

Managing bills after a natural disaster posted on Sep 22

Managing bills after a natural disaster

Following a natural disaster, consumers in the disaster area are undoubtedly faced with challenges. After making sure loved ones are safe, attention turns to repairing damages and salvaging belongings. Day-to-day activities are often forgotten or put off. But it’s important to remember there are responsibilities,   …Continue Reading Managing bills after a natural disaster