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Avoiding fraud when purchasing a car

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Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013 10:06 am

When purchasing a used or new car many individuals are unaware of the different types of fraudulent acts that may occur when the purchase is finalized.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has been giving helpful tips to consumers to avoid such acts of fraud before customers drive their car off the lot.

Each year ADOT receives numerous requests for assistance and complaints that center on buying a used vehicle, which customers are having a hard time transferring the title of the car onto their name, Public Information Officer for ADOT Harold Sanders said.

Some of the reasons for the complaints relate to liens on vehicles that were unknown before the purchase, or a registration problem that must be cleared before the buyer can transfer the title of the vehicle. 

Sanders said before finalizing any purchase, homework and research on the car should be done first to avoid any types of fraud.

One research method that can be used is to make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) hasn’t been tampered with in any way, and matches the same with what’s on the title of the car.

“The Vehicle Identification Number is really critical when it comes to doing some homework on the car. It’s used to see if there are any liens on the car,” Sanders said. 

When obtaining the VIN number an individual can visit the Motor Vehicle Division in person or visit www.ServiceArizona.com, using the lien motor vehicle inquiry, to check the motor vehicle record to see if there are any types of liens on the car, Sanders said.

The online service also gives background on a car before any purchase is made in order to see if there are any reasons permitting the title to be transferred. 

There’s a fee using the lien motor vehicle inquiry, which is $1.50.

The Arizona Used Car Lemon Law also protects any buyer who purchases a vehicle from any licensed dealer if the car experiences any major fails before 15 days or 500 miles.

The buyer will then be responsible for up to $25 for the first two repairs, and will be reimbursed for the entire price spent of the vehicle if the problem can’t be fixed.

The law also requires dealerships selling new vehicles to disclose in writing if there were any damages that occurred to the car and to acknowledge if the repair cost exceeded 3 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Besides checking to see if there are any outstanding liens on the car, researching the VIN number allows the buyer to know if the odometer has been tampered with or rolled back, Sanders said. 

Sanders said individuals who purchased a vehicle before any research was done should take it to a mechanic to know if there are any problems that can be fixed.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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