Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) of British Columbia issued a province-wide curber warning in summer 2016. While the automotive news release dealt with specific curbers, the warning is effective for everyone planning to buy a car.
Who are Curbers?
Curbers, also known as curbstoners, are unscrupulous pretenders in the world of automobile sales. They pose as an individual selling a personal vehicle, but in reality, they are unlicensed auto dealers. Curbers can be an individual or a business. They post for sale ads in newspapers and online. Sometimes, cars are sold from a parking lot or right from the street curb, which is where the name curbers originated.
Why Avoid Curbers?
People need cars, and curbers sell them, so what’s the big deal? For one thing, automobile dealers must be licensed. Curbers operate without a license, which violates the law, and they are probably not paying taxes on their unauthorized auto sales, which is also illegal.
Another problem is that buyers really have no idea what they are getting. Curbers may change a vehicle’s odometer, may not disclose prior accidents the vehicle was involved in and be selling stolen cars or vehicles with liens. Some vehicles may be repaired just enough to look presentable, but they may have been completely written off by an insurance company because of damage. Buyers purchase the vehicle in good faith, but if something happens after the purchase, who will they go to if a problem arises? Consumers can file a complaint, and a warning about the seller may be published in automotive news, but there is little remedy for buyers after the sale. That’s why spotting a curber before doing business is important.
How to Spot a Curber
Because curbers pretend to be regular people with a car for sale, it can be difficult to spot them. However, there are some key things to look for to make sure a curber is not scamming you.
• Advertisements in automotive news do not include a dealer license number
• Only one phone number listed for more than one vehicle being sold
• When you call about the car, the seller asks which vehicle you are interested in buying
• The seller does not have an original vehicle registration form
• The seller’s name is not on the vehicle registration
• The vehicle’s make, model and other identifiers do not match what is listed on the registration form
• Vehicle Identification Number does not match the vehicle description
• Curbers like to finalize the sale in an open space, such as a parking lot, as opposed to having the buyer come to the seller’s home
• Curbers typically insist on cash payments
Questions an Astute Buyer Should Ask
Don’t just take the sellers word on everything. Asking questions is a great way to keep from victimized.
• If the name on the registration does not match the seller’s name, ask to speak directly to the vehicle owner.
• Ask if the vehicle has been involved in any accidents or had any damage, such as flooding.
• Ask about major car repairs, and ask to see receipts for the work performed on the car.
Even if the seller answers all your questions, it’s still a good idea to get more information before buying. Use the vehicle’s VIN number to check its history through a service such as Carfax or CarProof.