DENVER (KDVR) — If you’re in the market for a used vehicle, Colorado State Patrol wants you to beware of any possible scams.
The patrol and certified VIN inspectors are seeing a rise in vehicle fraud cases, according to CSP. These cases range from false titles and tampered-with odometers to the sale of stolen vehicles. Often, these vehicles will be an “unbelievable” deal compared to similar cars.
Colorado State Patrol reminded buyers that signs a car sale is a scam include:
- The vehicle is listed for a much lower price than comparable vehicles
- A private seller lists the vehicle and asks for cash only. This is especially true if the seller is appealing to emotions (i.e., “only selling to pay my bills,” or “I need to make rent”).
- The seller’s account on Facebook marketplace, eBay, Craigslist and other person-to-person sale sites has little to no content or is nearly blank, which could indicate the seller is trying to leave little trace of themselves
“Not all personal sales are bad but be sure you know who you are dealing with,” CSP said in a release.
Buyers should be wary of vehicles with an out-of-state title that the seller has not transferred into Colorado. The seller could be hiding the car’s true history through this, and at the very least the buyer will need to jump through additional steps to transfer the title.
All vehicle dealers in Colorado are also listed on the Colorado Department of Revenue’s website. According to CSP, fraudulent vehicle dealers appear legitimate but often sell several vehicles in a few days and disappear overnight. Often those vehicles are found to be stolen or the titles are found to be fraudulent.
Verifying a potential sale for scams
Checking sites such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds to determine what the price range for a vehicle in the listed condition would sell for is a good way to ensure the vehicle is being sold for a fair market price.
Vehicles from out of state must undergo a certified VIN inspection before being registered in Colorado. Most title frauds or attempted title washes are sold to unassuming buyers using an out-of-state title the buyer is not familiar with, CSP said. Then, during a VIN inspection, the buyer discovers the vehicle is stolen or the title is fraudulent.
If a vehicle has an out-of-state title, have the seller complete a VIN inspection or Certification before the sale.
Additionally, some vehicles will be advertised with certain trim types such as “King Ranch,” “WRX,” or “SVT,” but the unfamiliar would not be able to tell the difference. Anyone can use the NHTSA VIN decoder to determine what year, make, and model the VIN shows. If the VIN decoder differs from the advertisement, the vehicle could be a scam.
Any buyers can ensure they have all the proper documents for a title transfer by viewing the Colorado Department of Revenue’s website, where all documents and templates are available.
For a complete list of vehicle buying resources, visit lockdownyourcar.org/resources, which is run by Colorado State Patrol’s Auto Theft Prevention Authority.