The holiday season is upon us and some of us may be looking to get a deal on a vehicle for ourselves or as a gift for someone else. More and more people are looking online to not only research available vehicles, but also to buy it outright without seeing the vehicle in person first. This leaves many people vulnerable to curbers, who are illegal, unlicensed automotive sellers.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) 90 per cent of consumers have unknowingly engaged with a scam on social media and more than 50 per cent of people have fallen victim to scams.
- Curbers may appear to be selling from what seems like a real business or may pretend to be a private seller.
- Curbers can seem in a hurry and want to sell a vehicle quickly.
- You might find their phone number listed on a lot of ads for different vehicles—private sellers usually only have one vehicle for sale.
- If you think you might be dealing with a curber, a quick search on AMVIC’s database can tell you if you are doing business with a registered salesperson or licensed business. If you cannot find who you are dealing with, you can call AMVIC at 1-877-979-8100 ext. 2002 to be certain.
It is always best to see the vehicle before committing to buy it. Deposits should be treated as a commitment to buy the vehicle, as deposits are rarely refunded. If you are required to make a deposit, you are committing to buying the vehicle.
Here are tips when shopping online or over the phone:
- If you have to put down a deposit to secure the vehicle, ask if the deposit is refundable or not? Ask questions and ensure you get a deposit agreement in writing.
- Stay in control of the transaction. Never be rushed into buying. Make it clear that you want to view and test drive the vehicle before a purchase agreement is made.
- Be critical of exaggerated claims made by private sellers. Licensed businesses follow an advertising code of conduct, private sellers do not.
- Read fraud warnings and safety tips posted on internet classified sites.
- Remember, there are thousands of vehicles for sale at any given time. If a deal doesn’t work out, there will be other vehicles to buy.
Whether it’s the Grinch or a curber, make sure you don’t fall victim to an online scam this holiday season. Visit amvic.org to learn more about your rights when buying a vehicle in Alberta.