Increased Demand For Used Vehicles Increases Risk Of Fraud

Increased Demand For Used Vehicles Increases Risk Of Fraud

By Terri Jo Neff |

The Arizona Department of Transportation is hoping to protect consumers from having a bad time buying a used vehicles.

An increased demand for certified pre-owned or used vehicles has been seen in recent months in response to manufacturer supply chain interruptions and the increased cost of new vehicles coming off the assembly line. Add that to tightened underwriting rules for new vehicle loans, and the used car market has become the next best option for many Arizonans.

But purchasing a used vehicle comes with its own risks, whether buying from a private party or a car dealer. Which is why ADOT urges consumers to use care in such transactions, and to “walk away” if anything seems off with the car, the deal, or the seller.

Most used cars sold in Arizona come with only an implied warranty of merchantability lasting 15 days or 500 miles, whichever comes first. Therefore, ADOT recommends consumers not buy a used vehicle until a trusted mechanic has performed an inspection.

In addition to checking the vehicle’s general mechanical condition, the inspection should look at whether the odometer was tampered with and whether the vehicle has any water or collision damage which was not reported or properly repaired. Such damage could lead to future malfunctions of the electrical system or engine.

A prospective buyer should also obtain a Motor Vehicle Record to ensure the vehicle’s title is not encumbered by a lien. When a vehicle title has a lien, it cannot be transferred to a new owner without a release first being recorded.

“Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous sellers that go to an auto-title / loan business and receive a loan against their vehicle one day before they sell it. The auto-title / loan business applies a lien to that particular vehicle so it can’t be sold until the loan is paid,” according to ADOT.

A Motor Vehicle Record is available at MVD offices and authorized MVD third party office. Private companies such as CarFax and Experian Automotive also sell similar records, often referred to as a vehicle history report.

A third way to avoid fraud is to ask the vehicle seller to be present with the buyer to transfer the title at an MVD or Third Party office where the payment can be exchanged.

ADOT even has advice for anyone selling a used vehicle, as seller’s too can be targeted by scammers. First, make sure to obtain the buyer’s name and address. Second, make sure to remove the license plate and any handicap placard before the new owner drives away.

It is also critical to complete an ADOT-MVD “sold notice” and submit it to ADOT. This step ensures the seller is not held responsible for any tickets or liability connected with the vehicle after the sale is reported.

Additional consumer information concerning auto purchases is available from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office here.