Car dealerships have a reputation for being aggressive toward customers and bending, if not outright breaking, state law when trying to close a sale. The federal government and Colorado impose certain limitations on car salespeople so they cannot defraud consumers.
They need to accurately represent the vehicle’s condition, disclose known defects, and uphold the warranties they offer. Sometimes, licensed salespeople will try to avoid these responsibilities by lying to potential buyers and pretending to be private sellers. This practice, known as curbstoning, is a violation of Colorado law.
What are some warning signs of this unusual but problematic form of dealer fraud?
When the title and the seller’s name don’t match
Most people recognize that they pay a bit more for a vehicle at a dealership because there are employees who make money off of those transactions. Buying on the second-hand market directly from a prior owner may seem like the right option.
Unfortunately, you may not look carefully at the title paperwork when negotiating the offer or finalizing the purchase. If the person selling the vehicle doesn’t have the same name as the prior owner or the current owner is a business, then the salesperson might actually be a licensed car salesperson, not an individual seller.
A private seller with more than one vehicle
You may have a vague idea of the vehicle you want, or you may just want the best bargain possible. If you check out a vehicle and realize that doesn’t fit your needs, that typically means you need to make an appointment with another private seller.
If the person trying to sell the vehicle stops you from walking away and claims they have another used vehicle to sell, that should give you pause. While there certainly are some people who will own multiple vehicles and then downsize their personal fleet all at once, most people only own one vehicle at a time and will therefore only sell one vehicle at a time.
What are the risks for buyers?
There are several issues when you fall victim to curbstoning. The first and most obvious is that you don’t know the actual seller, so you can’t hold them accountable for fraud later. The second is that you may buy a vehicle without a warranty or the protection you would have when buying through a dealership.
Fighting back when you suspect dealership fraud or misconduct can compensate you when you overpaid for a vehicle or were otherwise taken advantage of by a vehicle salesperson.